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Young people risk more mental health issues as wellbeing declines

· headspace Batemans Bay is encouraging young people in the local community to take small steps for their mental health

· New headspace research reveals three in ten young people (31%) in NSW report high or very high levels of psychological distress, higher among young women (35%), than young men (27%)

headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation has revealed the serious impact 2020 is having on the wellbeing and mental health of young Australians, with concerning new data showing rates of psychological distress remain high or very high[1], and there’s an overall decline in wellbeing[2].

The research was announced to coincide with the fifth annual headspace Day – a national event held during Mental Health Month that aims to support the mental health and wellbeing of all young Australians.

Jason Trethowan, CEO of headspace says, “What’s highly concerning is that one third of young Aussies are already reporting high or very high levels of psychological distress, treble what they were in 2007, but we’re also seeing the impacts of a really challenging year affecting their sense of general wellbeing.”

“Young people are telling us COVID-19 has impacted their lives significantly. They’ve missed out on many of the usual social connections and school milestones this year– and this comes on top of some of the worst natural disasters our country has faced including drought, floods and the bushfire crisis.”

“We’ve seen a drop in their ability to manage their daily activities at school, home and work and that’s affecting their sense of wellbeing, their relationships and how they cope.”

“We know there’s a direct correlation between decline in functioning over a sustained period and bigger mental health challenges, so it’s crucial we help them get on top of things now”.

“That’s why we’re using headspace Day this year to encourage all young people to think about the small steps they can take – every day – to build in some strategies to support wellbeing,” says Mr Trethowan.

“It’s a crucial part of managing mental health – whether its 15 seconds or 5 minutes, make it a habit and create some time and space to focus on the everyday things that make you smile or simply slow down and breathe a little easier.”

headspace youth advocate Annabelle, 18 years old, shared her small step for a healthy headspace. “Smile, just smile, make the effort to smile to one or more strangers in your day. It won’t just make them feel better, but you as well!”

[1] headspace National Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey. K10 Psychological Distress Score, 2020 [2] headspace National Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey. MyLifeTracker 2020 (May 25 – June 21)