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Why supporting young people’s mental health should matter to your company

The mental health of our society, specifically our young people, is in crisis, with a direct impact on people’s ability to perform or show up in the workplace. So much so that the UK loses approximately £118 billion every year to mental illness. For context, that’s 5% of the 2019 GDP and 68% more than the cost of the furlough scheme during the COVID pandemic.*

The good news? Organisations can support current and future generations by creating positive, healthy work environments that allow people to thrive. They can support preventative measures such as teaching young people how to understand and manage their mental health.

Here are our key considerations in improving mental health for the present and the future workforce:

 

Mental health is a significant concern for young people

Over one in four 18-to-24-year-olds are currently concerned that their mental health will affect their ability to find a job in future. One in five are also worried about the impact that the loss of hours (18%), loss of pay (22%), or lack of progression (22%) have on their mental health. Young people are especially affected, as these concerns steadily decrease with age.

 

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Poor mental health can prevent young people from reaching their potential

The proportion of 18-to-24-year-olds who are neither working nor seeking work (i.e. economically inactive) rose by 2.4% between February 2020 and November 2021. As many young people don’t feel able to work, companies miss out on the innovative insight they can bring to organisations.

 

The pandemic has exacerbated an existing issue

If the COVID-19 pandemic had not occurred, estimates suggest that we would observe 6% fewer adolescents with high depressive symptoms. There has been a drastic impact on young people’s mental health, and public mental health services are not able to meet the increase in demand.

Companies can make a difference by providing support and a positive workplace

Employees who feel comfortable and supported at their workplace are more productive, and this goes beyond having the tools to do their jobs. The recent pandemic highlighted how important it is for employers to acknowledge events outside of work. With so many young people worried about job opportunities due to their mental health, organisations have a real opportunity to reduce their attrition rate, attract and retain young talent. To do that, they must show how important the mental health of their workforce is, by creating environments where young people can develop, grow and reach their potential.

 

Young adults are ready to embrace and understand mental health, more than any generation before them

The pandemic revealed that young adults are more aware of mental health concerns than previous generations at that age, partly because they’ve grown up dealing with significant stress and anxiety about world events. Today’s young people are ready to push for resources and to advocate for mental wellness in the community and in the workplace. Businesses are well equipped with the resources to support such initiatives both within their organisations and outside, thus participating in the conversation and in the social change driven by the younger generation.

 

Schools can be game changers, and they need support

The classroom is the starting point where many young people begin to acquire fundamental skills to support their future development. The question is, have teachers got the support they need to facilitate this meaningful conversation with their class? More than a third of UK teachers have no mental health training, and even a £400 million allowance from the government is predicted to help only 35% of pupils. Can companies step up and provide the resources teachers need to teach mental health skills?

It is critical to teach young people the fundamentals of mental health in the classroom, and for support to be available when they reach employment. EVERFI is committed to helping organisations address the missing learning layer through effective, online education – and with your sponsorship, you can provide free access to schools and make an impact on your community.

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