One of the many things that are good about ‘our ABC’ is that they take a look at issues like this.
You can access their report ‘Generation COVID’ and look at its messages. Many things are personal, but education and jobs are in there too.
Thoughts, fears and hopes for the COVID 19 generation
COVID has hit everyone hard, but for young people they are struggling “as their world is turned upside down.” This, the ABC suggests, is because they are at a crucial time in their lives and laying the foundations of their future. But with work, income and sometimes savings gone, study disrupted and their plans on hold some are very sad or anxious about a future that they now see as ‘uncertain’. They also feel more socially isolated.
Professor Susan Rossell, an academic at Swinburne University, and her team have been surveying people about their mental health. According to the ABC they found that:
“Depression scores for 18 to 25-year-olds were almost four times higher than usual for the age group. It was nearly as bad for anxiety and stress.”
These scores were way higher than for those aged over 25. There was also a trend of increasing depression, and anxiety and stress when comparing information from April with that gathered in June. As restrictions eased around May, the Swinburne was getting in its surveys were coming down, but they spiked again in June. Many young people answered yes when asked: “In the past four weeks, did you think you would be better off dead, or wish you were dead?”
According to the ABC:
“The other group that were particularly affected was people with pre-existing mental health problems” “So, if you’ve got the double whammy of being young, and having a pre-existing mental health problem, we were really looking at some clearly quite-extreme numbers,” Professor Rossell says.
Ruth Vine, the newly appointed Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health points out that:
“Young people don’t have the benefit of having experienced ups and downs, or seeing things unfold in the world in the way that those of us with more years behind us have. And so there may be a greater tendency to react and even to catastrophise. Even to feel, ‘This is it, my life’s never going to get back together.’”
Her hope is that a potential upside is building personal resilience, and advises young people to carry on life as normally as possible, talk to people and seek help and support. A couple of the quotes in this piece were interesting. One young 18-year-old said:
“It’s scary. Fear of getting the disease, fear of not being able to find work … fear of not doing well in school, because I’m having trouble sleeping.”
“For me, it’s been a massive wake-up call that things can change super-fast. And it’s definitely been a powerful message for me to take life by its reins.”
To me, what this means is, as VET practitioners, we have got to be there for our students even though life for all of us is pretty challenging right now.