Mental health concerns for the young and unemployed


A new report from a top UK youth charity highlights the devastating effects that increasing rates of unemployment are having on the nation's most vulnerable young people.

The Prince's Trust Macquarie Youth Index reports that 40 per cent of jobless young people have had symptoms of mental illness as a direct result of being unemployed. A third of unemployed 16 to 25-year-olds have contemplated suicide, while a quarter have self-harmed.

They are also more than twice as likely to have been prescribed anti-depressants, and many report having experienced panic attacks and insomnia.

"Unemployment is proven to cause devastating, long-lasting mental health problems among young people," says chief executive Martina Milburn.

"Thousands wake up every day believing that life isn't worth living, after struggling for years in the dole queue."

These shocking figures, which show that over 430,000 young people are currently facing long-term unemployment, have led the Prince's Trust to call for immediate government action and additional funding to support unemployed young people struggling with mental health problems.

The charity said it was vital to invest in young people to develop their key skills, confidence and motivation and enable them to move into work, education or training.

The Prince's Trust is in the process of increasing its support for vulnerable young people in the UK and hopes to help almost 60,000 disadvantaged young people in 2014 through practical and financial help.

The charity's findings in this latest report have gained support from experts across the health industry including Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, who has underlined the importance of taking immediate action to address these growing concerns.

"Unemployed young people are struggling in many aspects of their lives, from their mental health and wellbeing to their relationships and their qualifications and we must act quickly to end this," she said.

"This research proves that unemployment is a public health issue. It is one that must be tackled urgently and it is essential that youth unemployment is added to the public health agenda."

Ms Milburn added: "At the heart of this report is a clear message to government, health agencies and employers: long-term unemployed young people are in desperate need of support.

"Helping these young people into work is absolutely vital."