Mental health, coping with stress, and body image were the top three issues of personal concern for young people Orygen sought input from for the Mission Australia Youth Survey 2020.
School and study problems, and financial security also ranked high among the more than 300 young Australians who responded.
Professor Patrick McGorry, executive director of Orygen, said the Mission Australia Youth Survey provides current and vital information on the concerns of young Australians.
“At Orygen, we are not surprised to see that mental health is a top concern for young people, we see this every day at mental health services across the country.
“Mental ill-health is the leading cause of disability in young people aged 10–24 years, with 50 per cent of young people experiencing mental ill-health before age 15 years.”
Professor McGorry said COVID-19 had placed a tremendous strain on the lives of young people.
“We need to ensure that we intervene early to treat young people with mental ill-health and ensure that mental health services and treatment options are well funded, well researched, and meet the unique needs of our young population,” he said.
The Mission Australia Youth Survey continues to be the largest annual survey of young people of its kind in Australia. The information from the survey is used by governments, non-government organisations and community groups to develop policies and programs for young people.
Professor McGorry said COVID-19 had also disrupted school life for many young people, and financial worries had increased due to the effects the virus has had on their employment prospects.
“Casually employed young people have been severely impacted by COVID-19. This can impact negatively on their mental health,” Professor McGorry said.
To help young people reach their employment and education goals, the Australian Government recently announced its commitment to doubling the number of headspace sites running the evidence-based Individual Placement and Support Program (IPS) to 50.
Under the IPS model, education and employment services are embedded alongside clinical practice within youth mental health services.
“This commitment to the IPS model is a welcomed one,” Professor McGorry said.
“Orygen research has found that young people participating in IPS programs demonstrate dramatically improved employment and education outcomes.”
“Ultimately, the Mission Australia Youth Survey is a constant reminder that we must continue to take the concerns of young people seriously,” Professor McGorry said.
“At Orygen, we remain committed to working tirelessly to improve the mental health outcomes of young Australians.”