The Prince’s Trust NatWest Youth Index 2024

Similar numbers (18 per cent) report a mental health issue has stopped them applying for a job or attending an interview (12 per cent) during the last 12 months. Over a quarter (29 per cent) worry their current employer would not support them if they experienced a mental health problem.

The Youth Index is an annual research report based on a YouGov survey of 2,239 16- to 25-year-olds across the UK, gauging young people’s confidence and happiness across a range of areas, from their physical and mental health to money and working life.

The report finds that 40 per cent of 16- to 25-year-olds have experienced a mental health problem, while a fifth (21 per cent) report their mental health has got worse in the last year. Over half (54 per cent) of young people say the cost-of-living crisis and pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health, with over a third reporting that they always or often feel down or depressed (36 per cent).

More than a third (35 per cent) of young people are worried their mental health will stop them achieving their career ambitions. Two in five (41 per cent) say that worrying about achieving these goals has made their mental health worse.

Despite this, most young people still report that having a job is good for their mental health (62 per cent), enables them to feel confident about their future (68 per cent) and gives them a sense of purpose in life (65 per cent).

This year’s Youth Index shows the overall wellbeing of young people remains low, with happiness and confidence in mental health seeing the biggest decrease compared to other factors over the 15-year history of the research. Happiness in work, education, qualifications and money are at all-time lows, while unemployed 16- to 25-year-olds consistently report the lowest overall wellbeing.

Jonathan Townsend, UK Chief Executive of The Prince’s Trust, said:

This year’s report shows that rising rates of poor mental health are significantly impacting young people’s education and early careers. This is leading to a vicious cycle where poor mental health is having a negative impact on young people’s work, yet being unemployed has a negative impact on their wellbeing – this is a deeply concerning trap.
We must work together to address this trap, where poor mental health and employment struggles exacerbate each other, or risk it closing in on a generation. Urgent support is needed from partners, governments and employers to help young people break this cycle.
Sandi Royden, Head of Youth and Families, NatWest, said:
These findings show that we should not underestimate the impact the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis have had on the daily lives of our young people, their financial confidence and their future aspirations. They also highlight the resilience of the next generation with so many feeling determined to achieve their goals in the face of these challenges.
Through our partnership with The Prince’s Trust, we are able to better understand the needs of young people and take the right action through initiatives like NatWest Thrive, to help them to improve both their financial wellbeing and future confidence, to better equip them to achieve their goals.
The research shows that poor mental health is having the greatest impact on the education and employment of unemployed young people and those from poorer backgrounds.4 One in ten (10 per cent) unemployed young people have left work in the past 12 months due to a mental health issue, compared to 4 per cent of peers. Similar numbers from poorer backgrounds report leaving education (7 per cent versus 2 per cent of peers) in the last year for the same reason.
Almost half (48 per cent) of all young people worry about not having the right skills and qualifications or the right experience (57 per cent) to get a job in the future. Over a third (39 per cent) no longer feel in control of their future, and over a quarter (26 per cent) feel they will fail in life, rising to over a third (38 per cent) of those who are NEET (not in education, employment or training) or from poorer backgrounds.
Jonathan Townsend said:
Despite the bleak findings, the research also presents a window of hope, as the overwhelming majority of young people tell us they remain determined to achieve their goals. What they require however is practical support and guidance to overcome the challenges they face, particularly as the world of work continues to rapidly change.
As a society, by committing to young people and providing this support, there will be benefit not only to this generation, but to our wider communities and future economy for decades to come.
Over two thirds (68 per cent) of young people feel determined to achieve their goals in life. A third (32 per cent) report help with securing work experience or training would help them achieve their career ambitions. This is followed by over a quarter who would like help to build confidence, CV and interview skills, building skills for work (all 28 per cent) and improve their qualifications (27 per cent).
The Prince’s Trust helps tens of thousands of young people each year to build the confidence and skills they need to realise their potential. Three in four young people on Prince’s Trust programmes move into work, education or training. 
  1. The Prince’s Trust Youth Index has annually monitored the happiness and confidence of 16- to 25-year-olds in various aspects of their lives since 2009. Happiness and confidence with emotional health has seen the biggest overall decline compared to other metrics measured during this period.
  2. Happiness with work, education, qualifications and money are at their lowest levels since reporting began in 2009.
  3. For the purposes of this research, “unemployed” refers to those who are NEET (not in education, employment or training).
  4. “Those from poorer backgrounds” refers to those young people who state they received free school meals.

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