It comes as no surprise that in a year characterised by disruption and uncertainty, stress and mental health issues are top of mind for young Australians.
Mission Australia’s 2020 Youth Survey reveals that young people aged between 15 to 19 years old have significant concerns relating to equity and discrimination, COVID-19, mental health, education and employment.
The report found that dealing with stress (43%) was the top personal concern identified by the 25,800 survey respondents, followed closely by mental health (34%) and body image (33%).
However, concerns about dealing with stress was more prevalent for girls, with more than double the proportion of females extremely/very concerned about coping with stress (56%) compared with 25% of males.
In a first for the Youth Survey, equity and discrimination was the top national issue for young people, rising from third place in 2019 (24.8%) to the number one spot in 2020 (40.2%) – an increase of more than 60 per cent since last year. COVID-19 (39%) and Mental Health (31%) ranked in second and third place.
When it comes to what young people value most in their lives, friendship topped the list (82.5%), followed by family relationships (78.9%) and school or study satisfaction (67.5%). Close to two thirds of respondents also placed a high value upon mental health (65.9%) and physical health (65.4%).
Sir David Martin Foundation General Manager Helen Connealy congratulated Mission Australia on the release of the 2020 Youth Survey.
“We care about the things that matter to young people and are proud to partner with Mission Australia who help those in need,” said Ms Connealy.
“Our Foundation has been providing care for youth in crisis for 30 years, and everything we do is informed by our core mission to offer safety, hope and opportunity for all young people.”
“Having access to real time insights into the opinions, worries and values of young people, especially at a time when they face great challenge and uncertainty, is invaluable to the Foundation and to the best practice models of care that we support.”
“To help young people get well and build recovery pathways to education and employment we need to first understand and approach their physical, mental and emotional health needs in a non-judgmental and authentic way.”
“Young people need access to youth-specific services and programs that address their needs and meet them where they are in their journey and overall development.”
Ms Connealy said that young people’s heightened awareness and understanding of issues relating to mental health was evident throughout the 2020 Youth Survey Report.
“Mental health is clearly an issue of concern for young people, and it’s particularly interesting to note that two-thirds of respondents said they place high value on mental health.
“Young people today are increasingly aware that many people experience mental illness, but also that treatment is there and it works.
“We know that the majority of young people seeking help for drug and alcohol addiction have underlying mental health conditions. So it’s encouraging to see mental health confirmed in this report as priority issue for young people – both in their own lives and in the lives of those around them.”
Mission Australia shares the results of the Youth Survey with governments, non-government organisations, schools and social commentators to inform the debate around the circumstances of young people in Australia and to support the development of policies, services and programs that have the needs of young people at their core.
Download the full Mission Australia 2020 Youth Survey Report and infographic:Mission Australia 2020 Youth Survey Report [PDF] Mission Australia 2020 Youth Survey Infographic [PDF]