New survey suggests young people think stable employment would boost their mental health

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Friday 17th February 2023

A new survey suggests that young people believe that having a stable job would boost their mental health. A study conducted by The Prince’s Trust revealed that over 60% of young people think that stable employment would enhance their well-being. The survey also found that over half of those polled thought the cost of living crisis would be more damaging to them than the pandemic. 

The Prince’s Trust teamed up with YouGov to survey young people aged between 16 and 25 years old. More than 2,000 people took part in the study, which covered a broad spectrum of topics, including personal finance, working life, physical health and mental well-being. Aqibur Rahman, 22, is one of many young people who have suffered from poor mental health as a result of being in temporary work and undertaking jobs on zero hours contracts. Aqibur has had several temporary roles since he was 16 and said that he lived in constant fear about losing work and struggling financially. In 2021, when the cost of living started to soar, he said that his mental health nosedived. He was on zero hours contracts and he knew that he could have been let go at any time.
Talking about his experiences over the last six years, Aqibur spoke of the constant worry of not earning and the profound mental health issues he suffered when costs started to rise, saying he wouldn’t wish for anyone to be in the same situation. 

Financial worries are increasingly common among young people. The YouGov survey suggested that 44% of young people experience anxiety daily as a result of money worries. This figure rises to 53% among participants from poorer backgrounds. A report released in 2022 by TUC indicates that almost 4 million people in the UK are currently in insecure employment, which includes zero hours contracts, self-employment on low incomes and temporary and casual agency work. 

Having experienced depression in 2021, Aqibur received help and support from The Prince’s Trust. He was able to access training and get work experience in the IT industry. Now, he has a secure job with a contract and regular hours. After getting the job, he said that he felt more confident and was able to engage with and open up to others. He felt as though a weight had lifted and he was able to breathe. Tish Antunes, from The Prince’s Trust, has extensive experience in working with young people to help them to improve their mental health and access opportunities. Self-help techniques, such as meditation, getting into a routine, going outside for walks and speaking to friends and family can all help along with avoiding triggers and sources of stress, such as making comparisons with others. 

Setting manageable targets and aiming for gradual improvement is beneficial, according to Tish, who said that life can change drastically in a short period. Making a 1% improvement day by day means that people look back after a few weeks or months and realise just how far they’ve come and how bright the future can be. She also underlined the importance and value of reaching out for help and remembering that nobody has to struggle alone. There are services and charities that can help with practical concerns as well as mental and physical health issues. 

For some people, flexible work and zero hours contracts are ideal but individuals should always be treated fairly and understand the terms and conditions, Tish added. For students, for example, casual work often fits in perfectly with studying and attending lectures. The YouGov survey highlights the prevalence of stress among young people who are worried about money and getting ahead.