Mental health and stress top concerns for young Australians

Mental health and stress top concerns for young Australians

2 December 2021

Mental health and stress were the top personal concerns for young people who participated in the 2021 Mission Australia Youth Survey, the findings of which were released this week.

Of the 20,207 young people who responded to the survey, more than 44 per cent said they felt stressed all, or most, of the time; and 42 per cent of young people said they were personally extremely or very concerned about their mental health.

Professor Patrick McGorry, executive director of Orygen - Australia’s centre of excellence in youth mental health, said the Mission Australia Youth Survey provided current and vital information on the concerns of young Australians.

“During the past decade we’ve seen an increase in mental health concerns and issues for young people,” Professor McGorry said.

“The results of this survey highlight that, to some extent, this is being driven by their uncertainty for their future, including climate anxiety, study stress, job insecurity and experiences of social injustice and inequity.”

One in two respondents to the survey said their mental health had been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 has highlighted just how precarious young people’s mental health has become,” Professor McGorry said.

“Globally there has been a 25 per cent increase in depression and anxiety during the pandemic with young people and females most affected. In Australia, we’ve seen a surge of presentations among young people to emergency departments and youth mental health services overwhelmed with demand.

“The results of this survey are concerning but consistent with what we already knew was an urgent issue to address,” he said.

The Mission Australia survey  highlighted that young women and gender diverse young people were bearing the brunt of the stress and mental health concerns.

“Young women were more than twice as likely to rate their mental health as poor and more than twice as likely to report feeling stressed all or most of the time, Professor McGorry said.  

“Young people are also experiencing the impact of poor mental health on their future pathways with around 50 per cent saying it was the top barrier to achieving their study or work goals.”

“One-third of young people identified mental health as an important national issue,” Professor McGorry said.

“Young people need policies and urgent government action that responds to their experiences and needs. Top of this list should be prioritising access to youth mental health supports and programs.”

Join Professor Patrick McGorry; Lucy Stronach, youth representative to the United Nations; and James Toomey, CEO of Mission Australia, for an online discussion on the findings of the 2021 Mission Australia Youth Survey, Friday 3 December at 12pm AEDT. Register on Mission Australia's website.