Young people “unable to cope with life” since pandemic, warns Prince’s Trust

The pandemic has taken a “devastating toll” on young people’s mental health, with the unemployed significantly more likely to feel anxious and depressed, according to a new report from youth charity The Prince’s Trust.

The Prince’s Trust Tesco Youth Index finds that one in four young people (26 per cent) admit they feel “unable to cope with life” since the start of the pandemic, increasing to 40 per cent among those not in work, education or training (NEETs). Half of 16 to 25-year-olds (50 per cent) say their mental health has worsened since the start of the pandemic.

The Youth Index, conducted by YouGov, gauges young people’s happiness and confidence levels across a range of areas, from their working life to their physical and mental health. This year’s report, which surveyed 2,180 16 to 25-year olds across the UK, suggests that more young people are feeling anxious than ever in the 12-year history of the Index. More than half of young people (56 per cent) “always” or “often” feel anxious, rising to 64 per cent for NEET young people.

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

The pandemic has taken a devastating toll on young people’s mental health and wellbeing. They face a disrupted education, a shrinking jobs market and isolation from their friends and loved ones, and as a result, too many are losing all hope for the future. As ever, it is unemployed young people – and those with few qualifications and little confidence – who have an even more negative experience.

“The Prince’s Trust will always be there for young people across the UK, giving them a lifeline to overcome the toughest of challenges. At this critical time, we need businesses, government, and individuals to work with us to help as many vulnerable young people as possible. It is only by working together that we can stop this generation of young people giving up on their futures – and themselves.”

The report also reveals that almost a quarter of young people (23 per cent) do not feel confident about their future work. More than half (54 per cent) say it is harder to ask for employment help as “everyone needs it at the moment”. For NEET young people, almost half (48 per cent) say they “can’t see an end” to their unemployment and 65 per cent agree that the longer they are jobless, the worse they feel about themselves.

The Prince’s Trust and Tesco are working together to provide mental health resources and support in schools across the UK. The partnership also helps young people into jobs through The Trust’s employability courses, as well as Tesco self-funding six-month retail work placements for 1,000 unemployed young people through the Government’s Kickstart programme.

Emma Taylor, UK and ROI People Director at Tesco said:

The findings of this year’s Youth Index highlight how vital it is to support young people to develop skills and build their confidence, to support their future. Through our existing partnerships with The Prince’s Trust and other charities, we have already supported over 40,000 young people in secondary schools to develop essential employability and life skills, such as teamwork and communication.

“In these extraordinarily difficult times, supporting young people’s mental health is paramount and as a business, we are committed to helping many more young people in the coming years to build their skills and secure employment.”

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