The proportion of young adults suffering from poor mental health skyrocketed at the beginning of the pandemic, a new report from the Resolution Foundation has found.
According to the think-tank’s “Intergenerational Audit” report, the proportion of 18 to 29-year-olds who reported “higher-than-normal levels of mental health problems” in April rose by 80 percent, compared to 2017-2019. While this number improved in the following weeks, by June, the rate of poor mental health among young people was still 50 percent higher than the pre-pandemic period.
Written in collaboration with the Nuffield Trust, the Resolution Foundation’s report examines the initial impact of the coronavirus pandemic across all age groups, covering mental health as well as jobs, pay, living conditions, wealth, spending patterns and household income.
The report found that over half of those aged between 18 and 24 who were employed before the pandemic have since stopped working, either due to being furloughed or losing their jobs. This is compared to only a third of 30 to 50-year-olds.
Researchers also identified unstable housing as an issue disproportionately affecting young people during the pandemic. Those aged between 16 and 24 experienced lockdown in homes with half as much space as over-65s, living with an average of 26-square-metres compared to 50-square-metres. Young people also faced greater risk of damp and eviction, and were less likely to have outdoor space.
Overall, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a “U-shaped” crisis, affecting the mental health and stability of young people and the elderly worse than those between the ages of 30 and 59, the report found.
The Resolution Foundation calls for a variety of economic measures to aid young people, including solutions to tackle youth unemployment and improved “security and conditions in the private-rented sector”.
David Willetts, president of the Resolution Foundation said: “The pandemic has already cost tens of thousands of lives, millions of people their livelihoods, and upended everyone’s daily lives.”
“For younger generations, this crisis has created wider problems,” he continued. “The growth of the high-cost, low-security private rental sector has led to missed housing payments and cramped living spaces during lockdown. It has also reinforced the underlying trends for younger people to have less wealth than young people did a generation ago, while increases in the value of houses and pensions particularly benefit older generations.”