News

Distress levels on the rise in young people

09 Oct 2018

headspace has released new research which revealed alarming new data on the levels of psychological distress amongst young Australians. The research states that one in three (32%) young Australian’s (12-25 year olds) are reporting high or very high levels of psychological distress – more than triple the rate in 2007 (9%). Key to this is recognising that young people are facing a unique set of life compared to previous generations that is having a serious impact on their mental health.

It is important to remember that there is no single reason as to why young people’s life challenges are impacting on their mental health more now than in previous generations, it is a combination of factors which includes, young people sleeping less, being less active and eating less healthily. Not to mention the increased pressure on body image related to social media, relationship difficulties and pressures around school, work and study.

The headspace National Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey looks at the mental health and wellbeing of over 4,000 young people (12-25 years of age) and will help headspace to inform its approach to services and education surrounding mental health to young people.

Our research shows that rates of distress are significantly higher amongst young women (38% compared to 26% of young men); contributing factors can include women having a greater awareness of their emotional state, societal pressures to confirm to an idealised body image contributing to concerns with appearance and relationship issues with family, friends or partners.

The research also outlines that 18-21 year olds are reporting the highest levels of distress with 38% compared to 20% of 12 to 14 year olds. At this stage in life, young people are facing many life challenges which can all make it hard for them to stay in a positive state of mind. This can include transitioning from school to study or the workforce, moving out of home and relationship breakups.

We address these challenges every day through our headspace centres and our online and phone counselling support service. In the last year alone we supported more than 88, 000 young people.  

Research shows that 75 per cent of mental health issues emerge before the age of 25. By treating these issues early and providing a holistic model of support, the risk of them developing into more serious problems is greatly decreased. The headspace model completely understands that adolescence and early childhood is a critical time in a person’s life therefore by supporting young people early in life, headspace  are setting them up to get things back on track heading into the future.

The four core streams – mental health, physical (including sexual) health, alcohol and other drug services and work and study support, offer young people ‘wrap-around’ services ensuring any young person seeking support from headspace can have their needs met in a safe and supportive environment.

With distress levels on the rise it has never been more important for young Australians to learn some simple tips to build their mental health and wellbeing. This is why we have worked with young people from across Australia to develop seven healthy headspace tips to ensure young people can build and maintain their mental health and wellbeing every day.

headspace acknowledges that young people are resilient, and with the right support and tools they can build and maintain their mental health and wellbeing. So, we collaborated with young people throughout Australia to develop the following tips aimed at increasing mental health literacy in young people. 

7 Tips for a healthy headspace

  1. Get into life and do stuff that’s important to you
  2. Learn new ways to handle tough times
  3. Build close and connected relationships
  4. Eat well
  5. Stay active
  6. Get enough sleep
  7. Cut back on alcohol and other drugs


On headspace day (Thursday 11 October) we want to raise awareness of youth mental health and encourage young Australians to learn these simple tips to help them build and maintain a healthy headspace.  You can show your support by sharing tips on social media using #headspaceday.

The need for sustained efforts to support young people with mental health issues is vital. The responsibility to reduce distress in young people requires the investment of the whole community. headspace is proud to continue working with young people, family, friends and schools in the effort to reduce mental ill health in young people.