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Youth unemployment is causing a mental health crisis

Posted on 20 April 2015

I read something shocking the other day that I want to share with you.

The statistics for youth unemployment tell us that 16.2% for 16-24 year olds1 are currently unemployed. While this rate is slowly decreasing, there is still a major issue surrounding youth unemployment, especially when it comes to the impact it has on mental health.

Even more worrying is that the Prince’s Trust Youth Index 2015 has recently revealed that more than one in ten young people feel too anxious to leave the house. A figure which rises to more than a third amongst young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).

Combined with an 8% cut in mental health spending in real terms since 20102, long term youth unemployment is creating a toxic environment leading to serious and debilitating mental health problems among young people.

Of young people who are not in education, employment or training are so crippled by anxiety that they are afraid to leave their own homes

Considering that 27% of unemployed 16-24 year olds are out of work for over a year3, it is understandable that many feel lost and abandoned amidst an unemployment crisis, a lack of prospects and a struggling mental health system that has neither adequate support or funding to help them. This is supported by the 33% of NEET young people who reported ‘falling apart’ emotionally on a regular basis4. A large group – a huge 35% of NEET young people - are crippled by anxiety to the extent they are afraid to leave their own homes5.

While these figures are shocking, there is something that can be done about them. Apart from an overhaul in mental health services which I believe is desperately needed, I think that what young people need is a purpose - something to get up for in the morning, and to feel like they are making a difference to their own lives. This is why I’m so excited about the Groundwork Youth Network. It is such an important opportunity for young people like me to not only improve our own lives, but also to change the lives of others, learn new things, and to feel like they we’re playing our part in our communities and society.

Next steps

Since my last entry in November, things have started to really move forward with the Youth Network Plan. I am very pleased to say that the plan is now fully completed and we have received some very positive feedback from the Groundwork Chief Executive, Graham Duxbury.

Now that the final plan for the Youth Network is completed, we are focused on recruiting a committee of dedicated and passionate young people to support and build on the ideas in the plan and to help recruit more people to the network. This is a great opportunity for young people to utilise and develop their skills to help promote the Youth Network and Groundwork to their peers.

Over the next few months we will see the committee who are driven to recruit more young people to the network and to share the good work Groundwork does in their communities. It will be a time of laying the foundations, including setting up a page on the website for the Youth Network and creating dedicated social media accounts.

I’m certain that once we have recruited a committee we can start to involve more and more young people and see the network grow into something that will benefit their lives as well as increasing visibility for Groundwork which will in turn allow them to help more people.

I have been incredibly moved seeing the impact that Groundwork has had on the lives of young people already, and I hope that I can help to further this impact through the Youth Network. Everyone needs someone to support them and to make them feel as if they have a purpose in their lives. Groundwork has helped me to realise this, and I hope that I can help more young people realise this too.

Post by Laura Read, Groundwork UK