More than one in four 18-24 year-olds are worried that their poor mental health will impact their ability to find a job in a post-COVID world
According to the report Out of the woods? by the Resolution Foundation, over one in five 18-24 year-olds are still reporting symptoms of poor mental health due to COVID-19, and the strong connection between career (finances, identity, fulfilment) and mental health, means young people are increasingly fearing the worst when it comes to taking their first step on the career ladder.
The latest report revealed that of those struggling with mental ill-health, over one in four (27%) expressed concerns about finding a job due to mental health struggles, and three in ten 18-24-year-olds who were in work before the pandemic are now unemployed, furloughed or living on decreased wages, and are reporting symptoms of poor mental health. Almost a quarter of these young people fear this will have a negative impact on their ability to progress in a job.
Young people have been disproportionately affected by the economic impact of the pandemic, and whilst the economy is on a path to recovery, this new data reveals that the younger generation is still bearing the brunt of uncertain job prospects.
Just over a month ago, 18-24 year-olds were 16% more likely to be unemployed due to COVID repercussions, than any other age group (6%). On top of this, young workers were least likely to report ‘good’ mental health, with just under half (48%) reporting 'good', 'very good' or 'excellent'. This is compared to 64% reporting positive mental health in 55-64-year-olds.
Calling for change
Funding the study, the Health Foundation is calling for policymakers and employers to take steps to protect vulnerable young workers, both in current and future workplaces as well as education and to support their early career journeys.
The most at-risk age groups include young women (24%), students (23%) low-paid workers (27%) those who are unemployed (28%) or facing financial difficulties (33%) and with the Job Retention Scheme set to wind down in September of this year, the Health Foundation adds that more must be done to limit the negative impact of this decision.
The Health Foundation is also calling for the government to reverse its decision to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week in October. This will only add to more financial worries for many people that could have a severe impact on their mental health.
“The relationship between work and mental health is entwined. Particularly for young people, good work supports people to find their place in the world,” says Martina Kane, Policy and engagement manager at the Health Foundation. “Where someone is struggling with their mental health, making the essential first step into the job market can prove impossible, especially in a job market as challenging as the one facing young people.
“We know that to protect the health and mental health of the next generation, there need to be policies which pro-actively support them to thrive, rather than ones that just pick up the pieces after the damage has already been done.”
And that’s exactly it, as we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s about supporting those future generations to not only survive, but to thrive in the workplace.
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