Earlier this year the YCW - Young Christian Workers - launched a national consultation on Young People and Mental Health. As well as a general survey on mental health issues, we also wanted to ask about the reality of young people's mental health in relation to work. We had well over 500 young people in work (either full-time, part-time or casual) or seeking work, who responded to the survey and we wanted to share some of the insights from it.
The first result shows clearly that many young people are not yet finding full-time work - with two-thirds (67%) in part-time work and over a quarter (27%) describing themselves as unemployed/seeking work.
We then asked about the factors around work that have an impact - positive and negative - on mental health. There were a range of answers to the question on what has a negative effect, which we have grouped together under common headings. By far the biggest response was about stress and anxiety, with over a third of young people (37%) highlighting this as a point of concern.
Following this were a set of issues relating to a lack of dignity in work - including bullying, bad bosses and a lack of job satisfaction. A fifth of respondents (21%) raised these points. The subsequent categories related to young workers feeling unhappy or lonely at work (16%), having poor working relations with colleagues (15%) and having to deal with rude customers (7%).
When asked what had a good effect on young workers' mental health the responses were also grouped together. Overwhelmingly (at 45%), respondents highlighted having positive and supportive colleagues or managers, underpinned with good communication, as the biggest factor in establishing good mental health. Following this was the recognition of being treated with dignity in work as an important factor (26%), with examples being given of having time for breaks, being given encouragement and support to develop in the job. In addition, 18% of young people responded that having a comfortable, clean and calm working environment had a good effect on their mental health. Interestingly, only 3% felt that their pay was the most important factor in their mental health.
Finally, we asked the young people to describe any mental health initiatives in their workplace. Shockingly, only 7% could do so, with the vast majority responding that there was nothing, or that they weren't aware of anything. Some examples included training on stress management, mindfulness courses and opportunities for mediation.
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