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Young Adults More Affected by Ill Health, Study Revealed

— March 15, 2024

Researchers find an alarming trend suggesting the younger generation struggles with sickness more than middle-aged adults.

A recent report by the Resolution Foundation revealed a key concerning trend: young adults (aged early 20s) have a higher chance of being unemployed due to health issues compared to those in their early 40s. This marks a significant departure from historical patterns, where older individuals were typically more affected by health-related unemployment. The following key points came to light based on the study.

Historically, older age groups were more commonly affected by health-related unemployment. However, recent findings revealed a notable shift in this trend. The Resolution Foundation’s report highlights a “radically different” scenario where individuals in their early 20s are increasingly affected by ill health, leading to unemployment.

This shift in prevalence suggests evolving factors contributing to health-related work inactivity, which may include changes in lifestyle, work environments, healthcare access, and societal expectations.

Official statistics shows a concerning increase in poor mental health among young people. This trend poses significant challenges to their educational attainment and employment opportunities. The report identifies a growing incidence of common mental disorders among young adults, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. These mental health issues not only impact their academic performance but also hinder their ability to secure stable, well-paying jobs, resulting in higher rates of unemployment or underemployment.

Young Adults More Affected by Ill Health, Study Revealed
Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

The report also suggests that in 2023, one in every twenty young adults (5% of total young adult population) faced financial constraints or ended up being “economically inactive,” because of poor health. Moreover, the data indicates a concerning disparity in mental health outcomes across age groups, with young individuals aged 18 to 24 exhibiting the poorest mental health.

Approximately 34% of this demographic reported symptoms of mental disorders, representing a substantial increase compared to previous years.

The study revealed significant gender disparities in mental health outcomes among young adults. Young women are disproportionately affected by poor mental health, facing a higher risk of experiencing mental health issues compared to their male counterparts.

This disparity highlights the need for gender-sensitive approaches to mental health support and intervention strategies. Additionally, the report highlights the educational background of young adults affected by ill health.

Alarmingly, 79% of 18 to 24-year-olds who are not working due to health reasons possess qualifications at GCSE level or below, indicating potential challenges in accessing higher education and securing employment opportunities.

The findings the study revealed emphasize the urgent need for comprehensive mental health support and targeted interventions to address the growing prevalence of mental health issues among young adults. Additionally, efforts to improve educational outcomes and expand access to quality healthcare services are essential in mitigating the adverse effects of poor mental health on employment prospects and overall well-being.

Louise Murphy, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, shows the urgent need for better mental health support in colleges and sixth forms. The Foundation advocates for initiatives aimed at improving educational outcomes and reducing the number of young people leaving compulsory education with low qualification levels.

Jo Bibby, Director of the Health Foundation, emphasizes the importance of addressing the “building blocks of health,” such as good employment and education. She calls for cross-government action to prevent the emergence of a “lost generation” due to poor mental health.

Gary Siva, founder of the online mental wellbeing platform Zumos, highlights the mental health crisis in the UK. He emphasizes the need for a coordinated approach to tackle the worsening situation, exacerbated by a lack of funding. Siva attributes part of the urgency to the influence of social media, which intensifies the need for mental health support among younger demographics. The findings of the study underline the critical importance of addressing mental health challenges among young adults.


More people in early 20s out of work from ill health than early 40s – study

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