• The Prince’s Trust Youth Index links unemployment and poor mental health, showing that the emotional wellbeing of young people not in education, employment or training [NEET] is consistently more negative than those in work or training
  • The 2020 report, supported by L’Oréal Paris, shows how, even before the pandemic, the overall wellbeing of 16 to 25-year olds had fallen to its lowest point on the index in the 11-year history of the study
  • The Prince’s Trust calls on government, charities and employers to work together to prevent a ‘lost generation’ by helping young people into jobs, training and education

Research from The Prince’s Trust, released today, reveals a link between youth unemployment and poor mental health and warns of the long-term damage unemployment could have on young people’s wellbeing.

The Prince’s Trust Youth Index, supported by L’Oréal Paris, is a national survey that gauges young people’s happiness and confidence across a range of areas from work and education to emotional health.

This year’s report, based on a survey of 2,103 16 to 25-year olds, found that even before the coronavirus pandemic the overall wellbeing of young people in this country had dropped to its lowest ever level in the study’s 11-year history.

It shows that the experience and overall wellbeing of NEET young people is considerably more negative than those in jobs or in education. The data also suggests that longer term unemployed young people may have an even more negative experience.

The report finds that a quarter (26 per cent) of young people “always” or “often” feel hopeless, and this rises to 44 per cent of those who are NEET. Similarly, 38 per cent say that they feel powerless to change their future, comparable to 44 per cent for NEET young people.

As young people’s overall wellbeing falls to its lowest ever levels on the index, anxiety levels are high, with the experience of NEET young people even more stark. Over half of young people (54 per cent) report “always” or “often” feeling anxious. For NEET young people, this increases to 66 per cent. For young people who have been NEET for over six months, 70 per cent say that they “always” or “often” feel anxious.

Jonathan Townsend, UK Chief Executive at The Prince’s Trust said:

Our Youth Index has shown the link between unemployment and poor mental wellbeing among young people consistently over the years. These findings are more poignant than ever in the face of the current economic crisis and rising joblessness.

“The events of recent months mean millions of young people all over the UK now face the prospect of unemployment, as well as the lasting damage this can have on their wellbeing and future opportunities. If we don’t act now, we risk a ‘lost generation’ of young people destined for long-term joblessness, mental health problems, and poverty.”

The report also demonstrates that many young people are lacking in confidence. Over a quarter (28 per cent) of young people reported feeling like they are going to fail in life, with this figure rising to 40 per cent among NEETs.

Caroline O’Neill, General Manager at L’Oréal Paris says:

The figures in this year’s Youth Index are a reminder to us all of the importance of employment to our mental wellbeing. It is also clear that low self-confidence can hold young people back. This is why we passionately believe in building self-worth, alongside skills and training, and we are proud to work with The Prince’s Trust to support thousands of young people with their personal development and confidence.

The Prince’s Trust helps young people to build their confidence and skills and supports them into jobs, education and training. The charity’s youth support workers are available online from 9am to 9pm, seven days a week, and much of the support they provide is being delivered online and over the phone.

Every week, the Trust conducts wellbeing calls and structured 121 sessions with young people. The charity is also running a range of online confidence workshops in partnership with L’Oréal Paris, having supported over 12,000 young people since 2017. 

As part of its response to the coronavirus crisis, The Trust has launched a Get Hired Jobs Board’, which has hundreds of live jobs across a range of different sectors, to match employers with young people who are ready to work now.