Virus lockdown has young people distressed

Millenials facing meagre savings and grim job prospects are feeling severe psychological distress.
Millenials facing meagre savings and grim job prospects are feeling severe psychological distress.

The mental health of young Australians has been hardest hit by the coronavirus.

Millenials stressed about their meagre savings and grim job prospects are suffering severe psychological distress.

Unusually, researchers from the Australian National University have found people over 35 have experienced no change to their mental health, or are even feeling slightly less stressed.

Associate Professor Ben Edwards says the pandemic has inflicted a huge amount of pain on young people.

"Reductions in employment opportunities are having a significant impact on millennials and Generation Z," he said.

"They don't have the kind of financial buffer older Australians have."

An ANU survey released on Thursday compared snapshots of people's mental health from February 2017 and April 2020.

The number of 18- to 24-year-olds experiencing severe psychological distress increased from 14 per cent to 22.3 per cent.

Severe distress for people aged between 25 and 34 rose 11.5 per cent to 18 per cent.

For Australians over 35, there has actually been some reductions in distress, with 45- to 64-year-olds reporting no change.

Australians under 35 are just as distressed as Americans in the same age bracket, but they are slightly more hopeful about the future.

Two-thirds say they feel positive about the future at least three days a week.

"Feeling hopeful can soften some negative mental health impacts," Professor Edwards said.

Overall, people reported being more nervous, hopeless and restless, and increasingly feeling like nothing could cheer them up.

But asked if they felt more worthless or that everything was an effort, people said they felt the same in 2020 as they did in 2017.

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Australian Associated Press