Young Australians Growing More Concerned With Mental Health
28 November 2018 at 10:20 am
The number of young people that believe mental health is the top issue facing Australia today has almost tripled in three years, according to Mission Australia’s latest national youth survey.
Almost 30,000 Australians aged between 15 and 19 were surveyed for the annual report, released on Wednesday, which found mental health was a dominant concern for young people.
More than four in ten (43 per cent) young people said mental health was the number one issue facing Australia today, up from 33 per cent in 2017, and almost triple the results in 2015 (15 per cent).
Coping with stress (43 per cent), school or study problems (34 per cent) and mental health (31 per cent) were identified as the top three areas of personal concern.
Mission Australia CEO James Toomey told Pro Bono News that increased public awareness around mental illness was a big reason for the increase.
“The research shows mental health awareness is increasing which is great, but actually accessing support and information about where to go for treatment for young people is still really challenging,” Toomey said.
Almost half of female respondents identified mental health as a national concern, compared to just over one third of male respondents.
Mission Australia have called for governments to provide evidence-based universal mental health prevention and intervention programs in schools.
Toomey said it was important to implement a national coordinated approach to mental health for young people to streamline service systems and serve the needs of rural communities.
“If you live in metro Australia, services are generally easier to access and you have more comprehensive coverage than if you live in regional or remote Australia where it can be very hard to access help,” he said.
“Easing the access of services is something which can only really be addressed by a national approach in relation to adolescent mental health.”
In wake of the report, Labor pledged to expand the total number of headspace centres in Australia to 112 if elected.
In a joint statement, Labor MPs Julie Collins and Terri Butler, and Senator Deborah O’Neill, said: “Labor knows that we can and must do better for our young people. Because taking action on youth mental health is simply the right thing to do – for our young people, their loved ones and the broader community.”
Living away from the city was also found to affect young people looking for work, with 13 per cent of young people in regional areas believing their location was a barrier to work compared to 6 per cent of those in major cities.
The three major obstacles to moving out of home identified by young people were housing costs (70 per cent), financial stability (63 per cent) and availability of housing (42 per cent).
“We must ensure that young people – regardless of their background, postcode, income, gender or sexuality – have access to education and training, safe and secure housing and support services,” Toomey said.
“By expanding programs that work to support young people to engage with education and improve their career opportunities, particularly for vulnerable young people, we can give all young people the best chance to reach their full potential.”
Mission Australia recommended that governments invest in educational or practical resources in schools that prepare young people for future work.
Respondents noted that help for job interview skills and building a CV should be made more accessible to young people.
“I believe that there needs to be more opportunities for young people to be able to gain the training needed to get jobs that allow them to support themselves and possibly their families,” a 19-year-old respondent said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing issues with mental health, please contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or headspace on 1800 650 890.