Rising Mental Health Issues Among Young People: A Growing Barrier to UK Workforce Participation

Rising Mental Health Issues Among Young People: A Growing Barrier to UK Workforce Participation

Rising Mental Health Issues Among Young People

Rising Mental Health Issues Among Young People

Rising Mental Health Issues Among Young People

In an era where economic vitality is paramount, the United Kingdom faces a pressing challenge that threatens to undermine its future prosperity: the escalating impact of mental health issues among its younger population. Recent findings from the Resolution Foundation, a distinguished think tank, reveal a concerning trend—mental health problems are increasingly sidelining young Britons from the workforce, thereby contributing to the nation’s high inactivity rate and exerting significant strain on the economy.

Over the last decade, the number of young individuals sidelined from work due to health reasons has alarmingly doubled, surging from 93,000 to 190,000. This development positions people in their 20s as more likely to be economically inactive due to rising ill health than those in their 40s. Central to this worrying pattern is the rise in mental health issues, with one in three individuals aged between 18-24 reporting symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and stress and mental health at work in the 2021-22 period—an increase from one in four at the turn of the millennium. This demographic is now the most susceptible to common mental disorders, marking a stark reversal from two decades ago when they were the least likely to experience such issues.

The economic repercussions of mental health conditions are particularly pronounced among young people who do not pursue higher education. According to the Resolution Foundation, a significant portion of young non-graduates with a common mental disorder remains unemployed, highlighting a crucial socioeconomic divide. The think tank underscores the necessity for enhanced mental health support within compulsory education and improved provisions for students resitting exams. Such measures aim to prevent young individuals from leaving education with minimal qualifications, which significantly hampers their employment prospects.

The UK government has acknowledged this issue and initiated efforts to address it. However, the Resolution Foundation contends that there is a dire need for focused attention on groups with the lowest qualifications, who are disproportionately affected. As the country grapples with a record number of people—2.8 million—being inactive due to long-term sickness, with stress and mental health at work conditions frequently cited, the call for a comprehensive, cross-government strategy to bolster the foundational aspects of health, including employment and education, has never been more urgent.

The Workers Union Says…

“Without decisive action, the UK risks facing the grim prospect of a “lost generation,” marred by ill health and unable to contribute to the national economy. This scenario not only poses a “major challenge to economic and public spending,” as noted by Jo Bibby, Director of Health at the Health Foundation, but also places undue pressure on the National Health Service (NHS). The collective effort to combat this issue will be a defining factor in ensuring that young people not only receive the support they need but also have the tools necessary to thrive as adults in an increasingly competitive world.

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