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Increase in youngsters' mental health problems 'major challenge' for economy

13/03/24, 12:00

A sharp rise in young people suffering from mental health issues is causing a "major challenge" for the economy.

More than a third of people aged 18-24 have had symptoms of mental disorder, such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder, with the number of that age group out of work  because of ill health almost doubling in the past 10 years from 93,000  to 190,000.

The think tank's Jo Bibby said mental health was "one of the greatest health challenges we face" with the report stating that those with poor mental health were more  likely to receive lower qualifications as 79pc of those who are jobless  have only GCSE-level education. Some 21 percent of young people with mental health issues are out of work compared with just 13pc of healthier people in that age group. And issues are also impacting children, with one in eight 11 to 16-year-olds with poor mental health missing 15 days or more of school  during the 2023 autumn term, in healthier classmates the figure is just one in 50.

Children suffering from poor mental health are also three times more likely not to pass five GCSEs including maths  and English compared with healthier children, the report found. Ms Bibby said: "The increase in the incidence of mental illness in young  people is one of the greatest health challenges we currently face. “It is already directly impacting the health and well-being of millions of people."It also represents a major challenge to economic and public spending  through the social security system and pressure on the NHS. Without  concerted cross-government action, we risk creating a ‘lost generation due to ill health.”

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