The impact of Covid on young people’s mental health

The impact of Covid on young people’s mental health

Young adulthood is a time of immense psychological and social change.  In an ideal world the transition from adolescence to independence includes opportunities to explore the wider world, experiment with identity, social connections, vocational learning, employment and living independently. 

The lockdowns and associated social and economic impacts associated with the Covid pandemic has meant that many of those opportunities have been lost or transformed into digital experiences. Social media, on line learning and working from home have become the norm, and a collective sense of uncertainty about the future persists. Perhaps it’s no surprise that a large percentage of young adults in Australia have experienced a deterioration in their mental health.

Even before the pandemic, young adults in Australia have to cope with many additional challenges that earlier generations did not have in their journey to independence. Large tertiary education debts in conjunction with insecure employment, unaffordable housing and worry about an unpredictable climate weigh heavy in the mind of today’s young adults.  Young adulthood is also a time when mental health issues often first emerge.  

When Headspace surveyed their young adult clients in mid-2020 86% of them reported a negative impact on their mood, wellbeing, sleeping, their home life, relationships, motivation, and confidence. In 2021 many young people continue to be emotionally affected by the Covid pandemic, and feel deeply uncertain about their future.

How can we support young people during such a complex and unpredictable time? 

Effective interventions for young people incorporate a strengths based approach, and focus on their capacity for growth.  Whilst we may little control over many socio-political events unfolding locally and globally we can make a choice to seek help and be open to how we navigate such challenges and uncover new possibilities.