The Mix, the UK’s leading digital youth charity has issued a new report which offers unique insight into young people’s mental health in 2021. The report looks at the issues mentioned by young people who contacted their helpline in the first 6 months of 2021, with a new 6-month report to follow at the end of the year.
The report shows that despite lockdown ending, young people are still really struggling with their mental health as a result of the pandemic, with 16% of the young people contacting the helpline between April and June 2021 mentioning thoughts of suicide, compared to 13.2% the previous year.
Mental health and wellbeing and depression/low mood were by far the most common topics young people discussed on the helpline in April-June of 2021, with each being mentioned by at least a quarter of young people. Anxiety was also discussed by over a fifth of young people.
Some other insights from the report show some factors which may be leading to such concerning figures:
- The number of young people mentioning school and education have more than doubled from 3.3% (75 cases) in Q2 of 2020 to 8.5% (184 cases) one year later, suggesting young people are worried about their education.
- There has been a significant increase in the number of cases discussing exam stress, which have risen from 1.4% (32 cases) in Q2 of 2020 to 3.7% (79 cases) a year later.
- Interestingly, the data shows that the cases mentioning anger have more than doubled from 1.6% (35 cases) in Q1 of 2020, to 3.7% (90 cases) one year later.
- The number of conversations around body image shot up from 0.3% in Jan-March of 2020 to 3.8% in Jan-March of 2021, the highest level recorded in the past two years.
Analysis of the helpline conversations suggest that months of insecurity, poor mental health, strained family relations or lack of close contact with peers and loved ones due to the pandemic resulted in feelings of frustration, increased irritability and anger.
Many of the conversations around body image were linked to users’ struggles with mental health and weight, with some users perceiving themselves to be too skinny, and others too large. Loss of appetite, eating disorders, unhealthy focus on eating habits, and pressure from social media’s focus on idealised attractiveness were other key themes.
The Mix is raising awareness of just how many young people are still struggling with poor mental health because of the pandemic, and how important it is that they get in touch with free and confidential services who can support them through the challenges they face.