Young Australians share their COVID fears

Emily Woods
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Young Australians are stressed about how the pandemic has impacted their education and mental health and are concerned about ongoing isolation, a new survey has found.

Mission Australia released results from its 2020 Youth Survey on Wednesday, showing young Victorians have been hit the hardest by issues brought on by the pandemic.

Additionally, 17-year-olds were the most likely to say their education has been severely impacted by COVID-19.

Many of those surveyed said disruptions to their everyday lives due to the pandemic have made them feel worried, stressed and without access to their usual supports.

“Our school is not doing enough in terms of accounting for the abnormal state of the world when it comes to setting assessments – I have never felt so simultaneously stressed and unmotivated,” a 17-year-old Victorian girl told the survey.

“There has been an extreme lack of allowances for COVID and online learning so I am consistently stressed about school – on top of being stressed about the world.”

More than 25,000 people aged between 15 and 19 responded to the survey, with 1650 young people saying COVID-19 had been their biggest personal concern in 2020.

About two thirds of young people who had mental health concerns due to COVID-19 were girls – 68.9 per cent, compared with 23.9 per cent of boys.

Mission Australia’s chief executive James Toomey says the results are particularly important given the pandemic continues to cause disruption for young people.

“The pandemic is still in play. With lockdowns and tighter restrictions recently triggered in response to COVID-19, we must take heed of what young people told us about their experiences and solutions in 2020,” he said.

“We are very concerned that the impact of this virus will continue to have flow-on effects on young people’s lives now, and their futures.”

Despite various levels of government investment in mental health, Mr Toomey says there are still “large gaps” in the mental health system, particularly for vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Mission Australia has recommended more support for young people in schools, to help their wellbeing as well as to support them completing school work.

The charity says mental health prevention and early intervention support delivered in more flexible formats is needed to address issues that may arise during periods of isolation.

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