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Young People’s Mental Health Significantly Affected By COVID-19 And Lockdown – Youthline Study

Auckland, 30th April 2020 – Many young people are dealing with feelings of fear, anxiety and grief during COVID-19, according to a study released today by Youthline.

The survey which compared attitudes towards COVID-19 during the Lockdown period among Kiwis of different ages, found people under 25 were more likely than those older than 25 years to say Lockdown has had a negative impact on their life.

Overall young people were more likely than older adults to report that their need for social connections and emotional support were not being met during lockdown.

Key results include:

  • More than 72% of all respondents agreed that COVID-19 and Lockdown has had an impact on their mental health, with people under 25 more likely to agree with this than older groups.
  • 24% of young people who responded named mental health issues, (feeling anxious, depressed and coping poorly) as the main drivers of negative impacts during Lockdown. Some are simultaneously feeling isolated or living in toxic environments. When asked about the negative effects of lockdown, the greatest difference experienced between young people and those over 25 years was ‘craving normality and fearing the future’ (36% compared to 22%).
  • This was followed by ‘missing face to face contact’ (46% compared to 32%). These negative effects were felt more keenly by young people aged 12-18, than those 19-24.

When asked about positive impacts of Lockdown on their life, respondents named important protective factors, like connecting with people and self-care activities.

The survey comes as Youthline experiences a 50% increase in the number of texts from young people contacting its Helpline for support. The most common being about suicide, depression, anxiety, self-harm.

Shae Ronald, Youthline’s CEO says, “It is absolutely vital that the voices of our young people are heard as the reduced social connection and peer friendships experienced during Lockdown add to significant mental health issues already facing our rangatahi. Since COVID-19 Youthline is projecting a $300,000 shortfall in its Helpline funding. We would ask Kiwis to continue to show their support for this service during these challenging times.”

“Economic downturns also disproportionately impact young people’s mental health and wellbeing. I urge our leaders and all New Zealanders to listen to our young people to ensure their interests are front and centre as we begin the road to recovery.”

Youthline’s survey was carried out with financial support from Facebook which has provided funding to crisis helplines around the world in response to the pandemic.

Mia Garlick, Director of Policy, Facebook Australia and New Zealand, says that “Youthline’s critical support for young people is vital during these challenging times. We are proud to support Youthline’s work and also promote awareness of its service. Facebook’s COVID-19 information centre now includes a link to Youthline’s Helpline and website to help young people who feel lonely, anxious or are struggling to find the support they need.”

Survey respondents said the most important services Youthline could be offering them right now is a Text Helpline followed by a Web Chat Helpline. To find out more information about the services Youthline provides visit www.youthline.co.nz, to donate visit the website youthline.co.nz/donate or https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/youthline-helpline-supportand to donate $3 text YL to 5144.

Notes to editor

Youthline surveyed 975 people aged over 12 years between 11-24th April.

The International Labour Organisation maintains that young people will be among those hit hardest by COVID-19. The relationship between economic health and mental health is inextricably linked and internationally previous economic downturns and crises have been linked to growing mental health problems and spikes in suicide rates. In the EU, every 1% increase in unemployment was associated with a 0.8% rise in suicides for people under 65 years, however for younger populations every 1% increase in unemployment was associated with a 2% rise in suicides.

About Youthline

Youthline has been supporting young people and working with communities for over 49 years. It is a “with youth, for youth” organisation and the first point of contact for many young people accessing youth development and support services across Aotearoa New Zealand. Youthline is recognised as “the number one organisation for youth to reach out to for help” with 25% of young people and their friends contacting them for support (Colmar Brunton 2019).

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