Report reveals the changing nature of work impacting the mental health of young people

On the eve of Year 12 exams, ReachOut and EY have released a report which for the first time has found that the changing nature of work is impacting the mental health and wellbeing of young people, and is also resulting in high levels of exam stress.

Titled Ready or Not: Equipping young people for the future working world the report found that work, money and study were identified as the main sources of stress for young people with at least 25 percent of students so stressed by exams they sought help from a counsellor, GP or mental health professional.*

According to Ashley de Silva, CEO of ReachOut, the stress is often a result of the pressure on young people to do well in exams, find stable employment and gain financial security in a more precarious work environment impacted by automation, globalisation and the gig economy.

“What comes through from the report is that concerns young people have about work and their future is impacting them right now when it comes to stress about exams. We know that unhealthy levels of stress can impact mental health if left unchecked,” said de Silva.

Other findings in the report identified that only half of the students surveyed believe they are ready for the workforce after finishing their studies (47 per cent), almost one in five said they didn’t feel confident that they would be able to find work (18.7 per cent), and over 40 per cent felt that the training and support they received was not adequate to find work. The research also shows that many young people want more opportunities to develop their experience of the working world through placements, internships, apprenticeships and volunteering (28.4 percent).*

“The report shows that action is needed to build young people’s resilience and mental wellbeing and to help manage the stress and anxiety they will experience in the future working world. We also need to support those people who young people turn to for help – parents, carers, families and educators,”

“As end-of-year exams kick off, we wish all Year 12 students across Australia the best of luck and remind them it’s important to keep stress at healthy levels by using simple strategies like taking breaks, refuelling with healthy food and getting enough sleep.”

The report features interviews with a range of young people about their personal experiences. Most who feature in the report are naturally excited and optimistic, but also scared about their personal futures.

Caitlin Francis, Partner at EY said the report also finds that some of the structures to support young people in this new working world are falling short.

“A focus on skills like critical thinking and collaboration will help prepare young people entering a working world where technology is changing roles and the very nature of work. Additionally, career education that prepares young people for the transition from education to employment is very important, together with real world work experience like internships and apprenticeships.”

*Nationally representative survey by ReachOut in 2018 of more than 1000 young people aged 14–25 years.

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