Money Wellness
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calendar icon26 Feb 2024

Youngsters with mental health problems who do poorly at school more likely to be out of work

People aged 18-24 are more likely than any other age group to have a common mental disorder (CMD), according to new research.

A report from the Resolution Foundation points out this is in stark contrast to 20 years ago when this age group were the least likely to suffer with mental health problems.

It also reveals those young people who do poorly at school, as well as battling poor mental health, are most likely to find themselves out of work.

The new report from the think tank is the latest of three exploring the relationship between young people's mental health and their working lives.

The findings

In 2021-22, 34% of young people aged 18-24 reported symptoms of conditions like depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder, up from 24% in 2000.

During that time, more than half a million were prescribed anti-depressants.

The Resolution Foundation warns this isn't just a mental health crisis, it’s also a work crisis. Between 2018 and 2022, 21% of 18-24 year olds with mental health problems were out of work, compared to 13% of those without mental health problems.

The report also found the number of young people out of work due to poor mental health has more than doubled over the past 10 years, from 93,000 to 190,000. People in their early 20s are now more likely to be out of work due to mental health issues than those in their 40s.

The research notes support for young people with poor mental health often centres around university education, but the economic impact is far worse for those who don’t go onto higher education.

Of those 18-24 year olds who are out of work due to ill health, 79% only have qualifications at GCSE level or below.

Call for action

The report calls for:

  • more mental health support at colleges and sixth forms
  • more to be done to ensure fewer people leave compulsory education with inadequate qualifications
  • better management practices and mental health training for employers in sectors with a high proportion of young people with CMDs e.g. retail and hospitality

A lost generation

Louise Murphy, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: 

“Policymakers need to focus on the building blocks of health, such as good employment and education, to ensure young people get the support they need and have the tools to move through the world as adults. Without concerted cross-government action, we risk creating a ‘lost generation’ due to ill health.

Avatar of Lydia Bell-Jones

Lydia Bell-Jones

With a background in banking, Lydia has been writing professionally for over five years. She is passionate about helping people improve their personal finances and has a particular interest in the connection between money and mental health.

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