The Mission Australia Youth Survey 2016 found that alcohol and drugs and discrimination were the top two issues facing young people in Australia today, with mental health making the top three for the first time in the 15 year history of the report.
In addition, of the 22,000 people who took part in the survey, one in seven females said they had been discriminated against because of their gender and one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people said they had faced discrimination because of their cultural background or race.
“Our survey provides a window into young people’s thoughts, concerns and ambitions,” said Catherine Yeomans, CEO of Mission Australia. “Of course, these are young people’s concerns for Australia but we also see mental health concerns reflected at a personal level with stress, school and study problems and body image the top three issues.”
She said Australia’s youth services need to be more targeted and co-ordinated to ensure young people receive help if they need it: “We need a coordinated, comprehensive and cohesive national plan to ensure we are delivering the right programs to the young people who need them most. There are some great educational awareness programs working in schools but we need to make sure all young people are able to access and navigate the appropriate supports, advice and information to help them in times of need.”
The report revealed that since 2011 concerns about mentalhealthhave doubled. And it seems mental health problems are affecting children at an increasingly younger age. “We also need to question how early we start providing mental health services,” Ms Yeomans said. “Some of our staff are seeing children as young as eight years old with suicidal thoughts and there is often limited access to the necessary supports.”
She added that the levels of discrimination reported in the survey were unacceptable and that governments had a big part to play in addressing the issue. “It’s important that we give young people a voice and that we feed those concerns into the policy making process,” she said. “Young people are our future, their hopes and dreams are our hopes and dreams. It is only right that we make sure we are supporting them on their journey as they transition from childhood to adulthood.”
Read the full report here.
To find out more about teen anxiety, read our article here.