More than one in five young people in the North East have experienced symptoms of mental illness as a direct result of unemployment, a new report warns today.
The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index paints a bleak picture of young people’s mental health and wellbeing in the region, with the report finding that young people who are long-term unemployed are more than twice as likely as their peers to believe they have nothing to live for.
The report comes at a time when Newcastle has seen a 279% increase in the number of young people claiming benefits for more than six months since the beginning of the recession.
Jonathan Townsend, Northern regional director of The Prince’s Trust, said: “Unemployment is proven to cause devastating, long-lasting mental health problems among young people. Thousands wake up every day believing that life isn’t worth living, after struggling for years in the dole queue.
“Here in Newcastle, 795 young people are facing long-term unemployment and there is a real danger that these young people will become hopeless, as well as jobless.
“Our research highlights that unemployed young people are significantly less likely to ask for help if they are struggling to cope. Our message to them is this: organisations like The Prince’s Trust are supporting young people like you every day, helping them back into work, education or training. You are not alone and you need not struggle alone.”
The Prince’s Trust, which works to help young people looking for work, last year worked with 426 disadvantaged young people across Newcastle. It also has a centre in Benwell, in the city’s West End. The charity’s survey found that nearly a third of young people from the city said they “always” or “often” feel down or depressed with the report showing that long-term unemployed people are significantly more likely to feel this way.
One in four young people locally admitted they feel like a “waste of space” – higher than the national average – with the report finding that the long-term unemployed are more than twice as likely to feel this way.
The Prince’s Trust is now calling for urgent support from the Government, health agencies and employers to fund its work with long-term unemployed young people battling mental health issues.
Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said: “This research proves that unemployment is a public health issue. It is one that must be tackled urgently and it is essential that youth unemployment is added to the public health agenda.
“Unemployed young people are struggling in many aspects of their lives, from their mental health and wellbeing to their relationships and their qualifications and we must act quickly to end this.”
Charity helped Emma get her life back on track
Emma Reilly (pictured) is one of the young people from the region who have been helped by the Prince’s Trust.
Having been bullied at school, mental health issues left her unable to complete her university course. She moved back home and was unemployed for a year, which made her mental problems worse.
Determined to get her life back on track, she decided to approach The Prince’s Trust for help and was given support to set up her own design company.
Emma, of Chapel House in Newcastle, said: “Having something to focus on made such a difference. As soon as I started The Prince’s Trust course, my confidence came on in leaps and bounds. I had goals to work towards – like writing my business plan – and I felt excited about the future for the first time in ages.”
Since launching her firm Brave and the Bold Apparel in January, she has set up an online shop to sell her own designs. In September she got to meet Prince Charles to discuss her work.
She said: “Succeeding in business has had a ripple effect in all areas of my life. I am happier than I ever have been, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for The Prince’s Trust.”