New research on the mental health impacts of stress about the cost of living and the future on young people
Almost one in three young people in Australia reported the cost of living as one of the issues they are most concerned about, and for 40 per cent of those young people the cost of living is having a major impact on their mental health, according to our new research.
The national survey* of more than 650 young people aged 16–25 years, also found high levels of reported mood and behaviour changes because of cost of living worries. Of those concerned about finances and living costs, 52 per cent reported experiencing sleep issues due to these worries, 63 per cent said they experienced mood changes, and 57 per cent said they lacked motivation because of these concerns.
Notably, the research also found that young people are not just worried about what’s happening right now, but also what their futures will look like. While over 50 per cent of young people identified the cost of living as an area of concern for them, 75 per cent also identified worry and stress about the future as an area of concern.
The research shows that stress about the cost of living and stress about the future are both in the top five most concerning issues for young people, along with study stress, body image, and feeling down and anxious.
Ashley de Silva, CEO of ReachOut, said that highlighting the mental health impacts that stress about the cost of living and stress about the future are having on young people is vital.
“The new data which ReachOut has released today tells us that many young people across Australia are so concerned about the cost of living and the future right now that their mental health is suffering. The research shows that young people are losing sleep, their moods are changing, and they lack motivation.
“The findings around sleep difficulties jump out as a key area of concern because we know that sleep and mental health can be inherently linked. Without a proper nights’ sleep it may become even harder for young people to deal with the stress they are currently experiencing and stress in the future too.
“We need to shine a spotlight on the mental health impacts of the cost of living, encourage young people to take a proactive approach to supporting their mental health right now, and encourage young people to seek support if they need it.
“It’s never been more important to find practical solutions to financial pressures. However, we also recommend steps such as carving out small pockets of time to do simple things that bring positivity into your day and improving your sleep hygiene. These actions can have a significant impact on how you experience stress about the cost of living stress and the future during this tough time,” he said.
Despite cost of living concerns, encouragingly, more than 60 per cent of young people surveyed reported feeling optimistic about the future often or some of the time.
ReachOut provides support for young people dealing with stress about the cost of living and the future via mental health information and resources, ReachOut’s Online Community, and one-to-one peer support via ReachOut PeerChat. For information and support young people can visit ReachOut.com. ReachOut also provides support for parents of teens at ReachOut.com/Parents.
* Findings from a national survey of 667 young people aged 16–25 years, conducted by ReachOut in August and September 2022.
Tessa Anderssen / 0411 708 587 / email@example.com
NOTE TO EDITORS
- Case studies and mental health experts are available for interview on request.
- More than 50% of young people in Australia are stressed about the cost of living (n = 346).
- 75% of young people surveyed identified worry and stress about the future as an area of concern (n = 497).
- 29% of young people surveyed reported the cost of living as one of the most concerning issues for them (n = 192). Of that group:
- 40% said this issue was having a major impact on their mental health (n = 75)
- 52% reported trouble sleeping or changes to sleep patterns (n = 100)
- 63% reported experiencing mood changes (n =121)
- 57% reported lacking motivation (n =109)
- The top five most concerning issues identified by young people in the survey included: study stress, worry and stress about the future, cost of living, feeling down and anxious, and body image.
- More than 60% of the young people surveyed reported feeling optimistic about the future some of the time or often (n = 370).
ReachOut is the leading online mental health service in Australia supporting young people during tough times.
ReachOut helps young people feel better about today and the future, no matter what challenge they’re facing. They provide a safe place where young people can openly express themselves, explore what’s happening in their lives, connect with people who understand their situation, and find the resources to help them manage their challenges now and in the future.
Anonymous, free and 100% online, ReachOut has been designed specifically for – and with – young people. From one-to-one support from experienced peer workers, to online forums, as well as tips, stories and resources, ReachOut offers a wide range of support options that allow young people to engage in the ways they want to, when they want to, and has been doing so for more than 20 years.
And, ReachOut Parents and ReachOut Schools provide valuable information, resources and advice to help parents, carers and educators to better understand the young people in their lives and to play an active role in their wellbeing.
ReachOut encourages safe reporting about mental ill-health and suicide and encourages media to report according to the Mindframe guidelines.