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The Hilda report found an increasing number of people aged 15–24 have reported experiencing loneliness (Bigstock)

Australians are experiencing a surge of psychological distress, with loneliness rising sharply among young people during the pandemic, a new study has revealed. Source: The Guardian.

The annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (Hilda) report examines data gathered between 2001 and 2021 by tracking more than 17,000 people in more than 9000 households.

The latest report reveals how the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic shaped life in Australia.

“The data can tell us about the antecedents and consequences of life outcomes, such as poverty, unemployment, marital breakdown and poor health because we can see the paths that individuals’ lives took prior to those outcomes and the paths they take subsequently,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Roger Wilkins.

Initially, the incidence of distress remained relatively constant until 2011. Since about 2013, however, there has been a consistent upward trend in the proportion of Australians experiencing psychological distress, and in 2021, 28.9 per cent of females and 22.7 per cent of males were in distress.

Across all age groups, there has been a general rising trend in the percentage of people in psychological distress, although the overall incidence of distress tends to be lower among older age groups, with the youngest age groups (15- to 24-year-olds) reporting the highest average distress scores in 2021.

Almost half (42.3 per cent) of people aged 15-24 were psychologically distressed in 2021, up from 18.4 per cent in 2011.

Although the prevalence of loneliness in Australia has declined slightly over the 20-year period, it increased in younger Australians aged 15-24 over the COVID-19 period.

“There is a clear trend of younger people becoming lonelier and feeling more isolated as time goes on,” said a co-author Ferdi Botha.

“If there aren’t actions taken or policies implemented to intervene, we may see loneliness and psychological distress increasing in the younger generations and this may lead to lower mental and physical wellbeing and other wider societal issues,” Dr Botha said.


Number of young Australians in psychological distress continues sharp rise (Cait Kelly and Josh Nicholas, The Guardian)


Younger Australians are the loneliest group according to a new survey (SBS News)