© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

COVID-19, worse on youth mental health than we thought

Tia McDougall
Mental Health matters
Mental Health matters  Flickr

Online mental health counselling group Youthline expresses concern after finding teen mental health is becoming a more serious problem in lockdown.

Fear, anxiety, and grief during COVID-19 is normal, however a Youthline study among Kiwis of different ages found people under 25 were more likely to say lockdown has had a negative impact on their life.

Youthline has experienced a 50% increase in contact from young people, the most common concerns being suicide, depression, anxiety, and self-harm.

Youthline’s CEO, Shae Ronald, says downturns also disproportionately impact young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

“It is absolutely vital that the voices of our young people are heard as the reduced social connection and peer friendships experienced during lockdown add to significant mental health issues already facing our rangatahi... it's worse than we thought.”

President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Professor John Allan, says COVID-19 has taught us mental health systems need to be better prepared to avoid further unexpected shocks to the mental health system. 

“This is a unique opportunity to anticipate, design and rebuild a mental health system which finally meets the needs of all people with mental illness, their carers and family members and the workforce which supports them.”

Youthline found more than 72% of those involved in their research agreed that COVID-19 and lockdown has had an impact on their mental health, with people under 25 more likely to agree with this than older groups.