Mission Australia have released results from the 16th Youth Survey, in which 24,055 young people aged 15 to 19 took part.

Young people identified mental health, alcohol and drugs and equity and discrimination as the most important issues in Australia today, with around one third of young people identifying mental health (33.7%) or alcohol and drugs (32.0%) as important issues in Australia today and almost three in ten respondents identifying equity and discrimination (27.3%) as a major issue.

Mental health topped the list of issues for the first time in the survey’s history, more than doubling since 2015 (14.9%). Additionally, many of the top issues of personal concern reported by young people were related to their own mental health, including coping with stress, body image and depression. Responses to issues of personal concern were consistent with previous years, with coping with stress, school or study problems and body image ranked as the top three issues of concern.

Four in ten young people who completed the survey reported feeling extremely confident or very confident about achieving their study or work goals after school. However, the proportion of young people feeling either not at all or only slightly confident in their ability to achieve their post-school goals has doubled over the past two years (from 10.4% in 2015 to 19.1% in 2017).

For the first time in 2017, respondents who were still at school were asked to indicate if there were any barriers which may impact on the achievement of their study/work goals after school. More than half (51.6%) of young people saw barriers to achieving their post-school goals with the most common barriers cited being academic ability (22.0%), financial difficulty (14.2%) and mental health (13.2%). A greater proportion of females than males indicated that they saw these barriers as obstacles to achieving their goals, particularly in the case of academic ability where 26.2% of females indicated it was a barrier compared to 16.3% of males. Over twice the proportion of young people in regional areas than those in major cities thought that where you live was a barrier to achieving their future plans (11.9% compared to 5.0%).

In light of the high levels of concern around mental health Mission Australia are calling on governments to: provide evidence-based universal mental health prevention and intervention programs for young people; invest in the mental health of young people through supports to family and friends, technological responses and community based recovery-orientated programs; and provide psycho-social supports for young people that include links to employment. More generally it is important to provide accessible wraparound services that support young people across all life domains and to engage young people in co-design of youth-friendly services.

– Mission Australia

Read more: Mission Australia Youth Survey Results

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