One in five young people take time off for mental health

One in five young people take time off for mental health

One in five young people are taking time off from school or work because of poor mental health, research by the Prince’s Trust has found.

The alarming figure comes as Britain faces a wave of long-term sickness, with those out of work for health reasons standing at a record high of 2.6m.

The Prince’s Trust’s polling of 2,239 16- to 25-year-olds revealed that poor mental health has also prevented nearly a fifth of young adults from applying for a job. Happiness in work, education, qualifications and money is at the lowest level recorded over 15 years of research, according to the charity’s Youth Index.

It came as a separate study from the Resolution Foundation found that in parts of the country, almost one in 10 people of working age say they are too unwell to work or to look for a job.

Jonathan Townsend, the chief executive of the Prince’s Trust, said: “Rising rates of poor mental health are significantly impacting young people’s education and early careers.

“This is leading to a vicious cycle where it is having a negative impact on young people’s work, yet being unemployed has a negative impact on their wellbeing – this is a deeply concerning trap.”

One in eight young people said their mental health had prevented them from attending a job interview in the past year, according to the Prince’s Trust. A majority of those surveyed said their mental health had suffered from the pandemic and the cost of living crisis, with close to 40pc saying they always or often feel depressed.

However, the data suggested that those out of work suffer more as a result, with unemployed young people reporting the lowest wellbeing.

In contrast, two thirds of those in work said their job was good for their mental health, helped them feel confident about the future and gave them a sense of purpose.

It comes after figures from NHS England showed that far more young people are deemed to have mental health issues now than before Covid.

For example, the share of 17- to 19-year-olds with eating disorders rose to 12.5pc last year, from only 0.8pc in 2017.

Analysis by the Resolution Foundation shows much of the increase in overall inactivity due to poor health is concentrated in parts of the country which already suffered from high levels of sickness.

In west Wales, 9.1pc of those aged between 16 and 64 are out of work due to long-term illness. Merseyside is close behind at 8.7pc. These areas already had relatively high levels of sickness, and have seen a sharper increase since the pandemic.

The proportions can be even higher for older workers. In Tyne and Wear, 17pc of those aged between 50 and 64 have dropped out of the workforce because of ill health.

Charlie McCurdy, economist at the Resolution Foundation, said there is a “historical legacy” in some areas “where you can see inactivity rates for sickness as far back as the 1980s were still really high”.

He said: “There is the broader trend which is an increase in the share of working age people across the country who report disability, so the country is getting sicker.”

It can be a difficult trend to reverse, Mr McCurdy said. He added: “If you have extended spells out of the labour market, it makes it harder to get back in.

“If you go through periods of being inactive due to sickness, you are much much less likely to reenter the labour market, with way longer periods out of work even than those who are unemployed.”