Young adults have experienced a sharp decline in mental health since the arrival of COVID-19, research from the Australian Catholic University has revealed.
The findings come from the Our Lives project – a longitudinal study which is following life pathways of a single age cohort of 2,000 young people from Queensland. The study commenced in 2006 when cohort were 13-years-old. They are now aged 27.
In a survey undertaken in June this year, it was found that women were more likely to report a drop in their mental health during the pandemic than their male counterparts. Individuals in insecure work, or those living in urban areas, were also likelier to report a decline in their mental well-being since the previous survey in late 2019.
The Our Lives lead investigator, Professor Zlatko Skrbis, interim provost of Australian Catholic University, said the data revealed a worrying reduction in the mental health of young people since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Well before COVID-19, many of the participants in this study were reporting declining mental health. At the age of 22, in 2015, 82 per cent of respondents described their mental health as excellent, very good, or good. By 2019, when the participants were 26-years-old, this had fallen to 70 per cent.
But the situation has worsened in 2020. In June, shortly after the national lockdown period had ended, the number of those reporting good to excellent mental health had fallen a further four percentage points to 66 per cent. Employment concerns and loneliness have contributed to this decline.