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Study spotlights young people’s poor mental health

Published on: 4 Apr 2024

Young people are more likely to experience a common mental disorder (CMD) than any other age group, according to new research.

A Resolution Foundation study, We’ve only just begun, reveals that 34% of people aged 18 to 24 in 2021-22 reported symptoms of depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder, up from 24% in 2000. More than half a million were prescribed antidepressants in 2021-22.

This rise is limiting young people’s economic options, the report warns. It found that, between 2018 and 2022, 21% of 18 to 24-year-olds with mental health problems were workless, compared to 13% of those without.

The number of young people workless due to ill health rose from 93,000 to 190,000 over the past decade; people in their early 20s are now more likely to be economically inactive due to ill health than those in their 40s.

Focus on this issue often centres on universities, where the share of full-time students with a CMD has increased by 37% in the past decade, the foundation says.

However, it warns that the economic consequences of poor mental health are starker for those who do not attend university: a third of young non-graduates with a CMD are workless, compared to 17% of their graduate counterparts.

A “shocking” 79% of 18 to 24-year-olds who are workless due to ill health have qualifications at GCSE-level or below, compared to 34% of all people in that age group.