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Mental Health

Levels of depression almost doubled among young people during the pandemic

Widespread mental health issues, particularly among young women are of ‘significant concern’.

OVER HALF OF 22-year-old women  (55%) and four in ten 22-year-old men were classified as depressed in 2020, according to a survey undertaken that year by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

These were much higher figures than two years previously when 22% of men and 31% of women were depressed.

Using data from the Growing Up in Ireland COVID-19 survey, the findings highlight that disruption to education, employment and social contact were key factors in these negative mental health trends.

57% of those surveyed who were working, either full-time or while studying, lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Only 16% of the young adults who lost their jobs were able to start working remotely and the negative mental impacts of losing a full-time job were most severe for men, the survey found.

63% of the 22-year-olds surveyed were in full-time education or training and shifted to remote learning during in 2020.

The vast majority had the electronic devices needed for remote learning but around half did not have access to adequate broadband.

57% of those surveyed found it difficult to study while learning remotely and this was linked to a greater risk of depression.

In contrast, those who had more interaction with their institution and more resources to study reported having better mental health.

The ESRI stated today that: “It is too early to say how long-lasting these effects will be but there appears to be a considerable risk of a longer-term scarring effect for some groups of young adults.”

Spending less time on sport and less time outdoors during the pandemic were linked to higher depression rates among men while reduced contact with friends was linked to increased depression for young women.

Launching the report, the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, said: “During the pandemic, young people missed out on a lot of the normal rites of passages, social interactions and transitions that would normally mark their early twenties and this report clearly shows the cost of this disruption to their mental health and wellbeing.”

He added: “The findings in the report will continue to inform policy and services across Government, aimed at improving the life of young adults.”

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