Mental health problems rise with unemployment: Roy Morgan

mental health affected by unemployment: sad woman has packed her desk and takes a box away from the office

The incidence of depression, stress and anxiety has grown alongside the unemployment figures, according to Roy Morgan research which has found the two trends are closely linked – especially for young unemployed.

Between 2010 and 2014, the proportion of Australian adults looking for work rose from 4% to 7.4% of the population, Roy Morgan research has found.

In 2010, 9.5% of young Australians (aged 18-24) were looking for work.

By the end of 2014, this figure had almost doubled to 18.9%.

Similarly dramatic increases in incidence of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress among this age group suggest that the pressures of job-hunting and establishing their career is taking a toll, Roy Morgan says.

Over the last five years, the proportion of 18-24 year-olds who reported experiencing anxiety in an average 12 months has risen from 11.2% to 23%, the highest incidence of any age group and well above the national average of 16.6%.

The proportion of 18-24 year-olds affected by stress has grown from 24% to 33.7%, while incidence of depression has increased from 11.3% to 19.4% — again, consistently higher than the national averages (25.2% and 14.5% respectively).

Among 18-24 year-olds who are looking for work, the incidence of these mental health conditions is even higher. Almost 28% reported experiencing anxiety last year; 24.7% said they’d been depressed; and 41.2% were affected by stress.

“The rise of youth unemployment in Australia is a huge source of concern, and the Federal Government needs to address it before it gets any more widespread,” says Angela Smith, Group Account Director, Roy Morgan Research.

“At this critical stage of a young person’s life and career, the failure to find a job can have serious implications on their self-esteem and general mental health.

“It is no coincidence that stress, anxiety, depression and even panic attacks have sky-rocketed in incidence over the past five years among 18-24 year olds as unemployment rises.

While these mental health conditions are affecting more Aussies of all ages, young Australians are being hardest hit, she says.

“While 14.5% of the population were affected by depression last year, this shot up to one quarter of young job-seekers. Not only is this sad, it puts more pressure on our already stretched healthcare system.”

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