A report from the Office for National Statistics suggests that up to a quarter of young women may have mental health issues, suffering from depression and anxiety. A wide survey which was designed to examine the wellbeing of the population, was used to gauge the feelings of young people aged between 16 and 24. It found that although some aspects of people’s lives had improved, how they feel about their lives offered a more mixed picture. The National Study of Health and Wellbeing has been carried out in the UK, since 1993, every 7 years
The report found that satisfaction with their health had improved for young people, and that a former gap between males and females had narrowed. However young women’s mental health scores were lower than the men’s and declined more in numbers over the years surveyed. Women were three times more likely to say that they were experiencing anxiety and depression than men, and they were more likely to report more severe symptoms.
Employment for young people was at its highest level since the most recent economic downturn. A major part of life-satisfaction is if people are employed in fulfilling activities, which can include training, education, volunteer work or work. This can show how well young people are able to transition to the world of work and how ready they are for financial independence which is important for their future wellbeing. There has been an increase in the proportion of 19 year olds who have attained a Level 2 qualification. Young people are also volunteering more of their time than previously.
The number of young people who found it difficult to manage financially decreased from 15% (2009) to 7% (2014) but the number of young people who were living in households at risk of poverty increased from 19% during the years 2009-10 to 21% in the years 2013-4. Younger people, aged 16-18 are often still living in the parental home and were more likely to be satisfied with their household income. A higher proportion of people aged 22-24 were satisfied with their household income than previously, but more were also still living with parents than previously (46% as opposed to 39%) 18-21 year olds showed the biggest increase in their satisfaction with household income and the proportion living with parents was also stabilised.
The report also aimed to measure how young people felt about their social connections and relationships, which are important to physical and mental health and quality of life. People were asked whether they had a friend, family member or spouse to rely on if they have a problem. Young women were more likely than young men to have someone they could really rely on. The report also looked at whether the young people experienced a sense of belonging to their neighbourhood, to further explore their thoughts on social connections. The number of young people who felt that they belonged increased, although the most likely to experience this, were the younger age group who were more likely to be living in the parental home.
The survey shows that although young people may be materially better off, due to living longer at home and putting off taking on full financial responsibility for themselves, modern life can still cause stress which can damage mental health. A quarter of young women had suggested that they had experienced some of the symptoms including depression and anxiety. Further studies may be required to find out the causes and why young women in particular may be affected.
Young people’s well-being: 2017, April 2017, Office for National Statistics