Report links joblessness to poor mental health in young

Image caption,
One in five of those who responded to the survey felt depressed all or most of the time

The number of young people in Wales with mental health problems is rising with the long-term unemployed more likely to suffer, says a charity.

A study by The Prince's Trust found youngsters suffered from insomnia, depression and panic attacks.

The charity's director said youngsters in Wales had been hit particularly badly by the recession.

The assembly government said young people not in education, employment or training were a top priority.

The Prince's Trust Macquarie Youth Index was based on interviews with 2,170 16-to-25-year-olds across the UK, 106 of them in Wales.

It is the charity's third annual such report and gauges happiness in everything from family life to physical and emotional health.

The Macquarie Group Foundation funded the research, which was carried out by YouGov.

It found 48% of unemployed respondents claim that their lack of job has led to problems like panic attacks, self harm and self loathing.

The Prince's Trust director in Wales Rick Libbey told BBC Radio Wales: "What we've tried to do is distil down into Wales what this is telling us.

"Those young people who find themselves out of work do suffer from a whole range of mental health problems.

"In Wales we've suffered pretty badly with the recession and youth unemployment.

"Unemployment seems to have hit the youngsters hardest of all and about one in four young people in Wales suffer from insomnia.


"We've found that about one in five have felt depressed most or all of the time and about a fifth of them have suffered panic attacks at different times in their lives."

The study follows a report by the charity published earlier this month which showed long-term youth unemployment in Wales was at a 12-year high.

It said the number of 16-to-24-year-olds on Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) for 12 months or more has risen nearly five-fold since the recession.

Julie White, head of Macquarie Group Foundation which funded the research, said: "The research shows how Prince's Trust schemes which help young people into work can directly address unemployed people's emotional health."

The study revealed that young people who are not in employment, education or training - known as Neets - are significantly more likely than those in work or education to "lack a sense of belonging."

An assembly government spokesperson said: "While we cannot comment on the findings of a report we haven't had an opportunity to study in detail, addressing the issue of young people not in education, employment or training is one of the Welsh Assembly Government's top priorities.

"We fully recognise the importance of preventing mental health problems and promoting positive mental health.

"Our focus is on improving health and well-being in an effort to reduce the incidence of people experiencing mental health problems, but where they occur, services are in place to support people through GPs and community mental health teams and access specialist in-patient services, where required."

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said 2011 would see a new work programme which will give people the tailored support they need to move into jobs and remain employed.

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