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Research concludes teenage mental health being affected by high rates of unemployment


(NaturalNews) The financial effects of unemployment are regularly discussed by politicians, the media and people going about their daily lives, but one of unemployment's more insidious effects tends to get glossed over: depression. While depression is a serious issue for people of all ages, young people are particularly susceptible.

According to a study that was recently published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, young people who are unemployed are more vulnerable to mental health issues and substance abuse problems.

The study was carried out by researchers from Duke University, King's College London and the University of California. They assessed more than 2,000 young Brits to determine their commitment to work, as well as any mental health and substance abuse issues they were facing. The people studied were 18 years of age and undergoing the transition from required schooling to young adulthood. Among the participants, 12 percent were not in education, employment or training, a group known as "NEET."

In addition to being more vulnerable to mental health and substance abuse problems, the researchers discovered that those who fell into the NEET category showed a higher degree of commitment to work but were less prepared to succeed because of a lack of leadership, problem-solving and time management skills.

Just over one third (35 percent) of NEET young people reported suffering from depression, while just 18 percent of non-NEET participants had depression. The study found that 14 percent of NEET youths suffered from generalized anxiety disorder, whereas just 6 percent of the non-NEET group had the condition.

Not an issue of motivation

Study co-author Professor Terrie Moffitt of King's College London stated, "Our findings indicate that while the struggle to find work appears to take its toll on the mental health of young people, this does not appear to be an issue of motivation. The majority of 18-year-olds we spoke to were endeavouring to find jobs and committed to the idea of work, although they are perhaps hampered by a lack of skills that would serve them well in the job market.

"Compared to their peers, NEET young people are also contending with substantial mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse and aggression control."

Another co-author of the study, Professor Louise Arseneault, added, "Young people who are neither working nor studying are often assumed to be unmotivated or unwilling to work, yet our study suggests that they are just as motivated as their peers — but many face psychological challenges that put them at a disadvantage when seeking employment."

The big impact of unemployment on mental health which the study uncovered remained statistically significant even after further analysis took pre-existing vulnerabilities to mental health issues into account.

Dim job prospects for young people

Today's young people are facing the worst job prospects seen in decades. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that around a quarter of the American population that is of working age is presently unemployed, rivaling figures noted during the Great Depression. In total, almost 30 million Americans aged 25 to 54 are not working because they simply cannot find employment.

Youth unemployment has long been associated with a higher vulnerability to psychiatric disorders. Unfortunately, mental health problems will only serve to harm young people's future job prospects even further, possibly setting off a cycle of depression and unemployment that follows them throughout their lives. This is yet another reason that politicians need to pay less attention to serving their corporate masters, and focus more on solving the real problems that regular people face every day.

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