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Global study shows young adults are struggling through pandemic

picture of a stethoscope pressed against a globe
picture of a stethoscope pressed against a globe Image credit: pennmedicine.org

A global survey has revealed millions of young people who class English as their first language are suffering from depression and anxiety which has deteriorated throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The study conducted by Sapien Labs found almost half of 18-24 year olds are experiencing mental health problems across the world.

Founder of the Mental Health Million Project, Dr Tara Thiagarajan told The Telegraph: “Covid-19 is exacerbating challenges that society already had, and certainly younger people have been impacted differently or in some ways more significantly by Covid, because their mental wellbeing was already so poor to begin with. Just sliding a bit can put you over the edge.”

Around 49,000 people took part in the survey from eight English speaking countries, including Singapore, India, United States and the United Kingdom.

The results were measured on a scale called the Mental Health Quotient (MHQ) and showed young people are suffering the most throughout the pandemic.

The MHQ scale starts from -100, ‘clinical’, to 200, ‘thriving’. The results fell on average by eight between 2019, when around 2,000 adults participated in the survey, and 2020. This equated to a fall from 90 to 66 on the scale.

Singapore came out highest at 94 with the UK being lowest at 54.

There was a rise from 14 per cent to 26 per cent of people claiming to have a clinical disorder or believing they are at high risk.

The number of 18-24 year olds with overall wellbeing dropped by 15 per cent implying 44 per cent of young people who fall in this age bracket are living with either a clinically diagnosed mental illness or at risk of developing one with the most conditions being depression or anxiety.

When it comes to the over 65’s the figure drops to six per cent.

Thiagarajan said: “If [this and future generations] have almost half of the population with serious issues that impact their ability to function in society, that’s a profoundly different society, and what are we going to do with that? So we need to get to the bottom of that and find out what is driving this.

“My hypothesis would be that they're the first generation that grew up fully in the internet.

“And so all of their social lives, and the way they interact with other people, is quite profoundly changed.”

The World Health Organization called the findings called a “parallel pandemic” of poor mental health during the pandemic.