Survey highlights COVID-19 impact on youth

Melissa MeehanAAP
The pandemic and lockdowns were particularly hard for Australia's youth, a national survey shows.
Camera IconThe pandemic and lockdowns were particularly hard for Australia's youth, a national survey shows. Credit: AAP

Feelings of isolation and little social interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a rise in mental health issues among young Australians.

But a youth survey shows gender-diverse young people and students felt it more than others.

The majority of young people reported the top three areas of their life most negatively affected by the pandemic were participation in activities, education and mental health.

Mission Australia's annual survey of 20,000 Australians aged 15-19 found that of the more than 3000 young people who rated their mental health and wellbeing as poor, more than three-quarters (76.5 per cent) indicated the pandemic had a negative impact.

The survey revealed gender-diverse people experienced more negative effects across almost all domains, and were twice as likely as males to report how the pandemic negatively affected their lives.

Students reported greater negative impact on mental health when education was negatively affected by COVID-19.

Those living in Victoria and NSW, where lockdowns lasted longest, were most affected.

Kate Filia, senior research fellow at youth mental health group Orygen, says the 2021 Youth Survey is particularly important.

Its data was collected during the Delta wave in the second year of the pandemic, when lockdowns were affecting young people to different extents across the country.

"Over the past two years, young people have borne the brunt of the effects of COVID-19 and have faced a multitude of unique challenges - socially, financially and (with respect to this age group in particular), their education and employment," Dr Filia said.

"For those who reported more areas of their lives adversely impacted by COVID-19, a greater severity of psychological distress was experienced."

Mission Australia's Marion Bennett says the partnership between the charity group and Orygen will help advocacy for greater supports for young people whose mental health and wellbeing are affected by the pandemic.

"We need to increase access to mental health services, improve mental health screening and supports offered through schools and workplaces," she said.

"It's also vital we ensure young people at risk of homelessness are identified early and have access to evidence-based housing and support models such as youth foyers when they need them.

"We must listen to the voices of young people so that the negative impacts of the pandemic don't cause ongoing problems for this generation moving forward."

Meanwhile, Queensland's COVID death toll surged beyond 1000 on Wednesday

"The number of lives lost in Queensland through this awful virus stands at 1008. These numbers are not just statistics, they are people," Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said.


NSW: 8970 cases, 11 deaths, 1209 in hospital with 35 in ICU

Victoria: 13,023 cases, 17 deaths, 567 in hospital with 37 in ICU

Queensland: 5584 cases, 10 deaths, 426 in hospital with 15 in ICU

Tasmania: 899 cases, no deaths, 51 in hospital with two in ICU

WA: 12,419 cases, two deaths, 301 in hospital with seven in ICU

NT: 298 cases, no deaths, 11 in hospital with one in ICU

SA: 3975 cases, one death, 236 in hospital with 10 in ICU

ACT: 934 cases, no deaths, 88 in hospital with one in ICU

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