Mental health is the top concern among Australians aged 15 to 19 years, according to this year’s Mission Australia Youth Survey Report.
The charity gathered responses from more than 25,000 young people, who said they were also worried about the environment, bullying and not being heard.
Almost four in 10 young people said that mental health was the most important issue in the country today ― a share that had jumped 15% since 2016. Coping with stress, school or study problems, and body image ― which all relate to mental health ― were three of their top personal concerns.
The environment was the second biggest issue facing Australia, according to the teenagers. In 2018, green issues had ranked in only eighth place.
The report found that bullying in tertiary education is widespread, with eight in 10 teens saying they’ve been bullied at school, TAFE or university. Young people hailing from country towns got bullied 5.5% more than those from cities. Young people hailing from country towns were 5.5 percentage points more likely to report being bullied than those from cities.
More than one in five young people reported they had been bullied in the past 12 months.
“This year, our survey also confirms a disturbing level of bullying which young people are experiencing or witnessing,” Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said in a related press release.
“This is unacceptable. Bullying can cause and exacerbate mental health concerns, with potentially harmful and lasting effects on young people’s lives.”
Young Australians were also asked whether they have enough of a say about important issues, with fewer than one in 10 young people feeling they always have a voice when it comes to public affairs.
“These results clearly indicate that young people in Australia feel disenfranchised and are deeply concerned about a range of important issues. Feeling ignored is perhaps driving young people to engage in other ways to be heard, such as climate strikes,” Toomey said.
“Young people must be part of the design of programs or services for young people. They are, after all, the experts in what it is to be a young person in Australia today.”