Coping with COVID: the mental health impact on young people accessing headspace services

Between 25 May and 5 June this year, headspace surveyed more than 3,500 young people who attended or received support from one of our centres across the country. We asked about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives and mental health and worryingly, young people reported there was a significant impact. That said, it’s important to note young people also demonstrated resilience in their ability to get through these tough times, and find some positives of what is a very disruptive period.

Young people are disproportionately impacted by the effects of COVID-19. At an already critical transition period for development, many young people are also experiencing compounding trauma from recent natural disasters such as bushfires and floods, and due to COVID-19 the usual support structures and pathways to care like school and sport have been disrupted.

The headspace client impact report, Coping with COVID reflects this sentiment with 74% of young people surveyed reporting their mental health had been negatively impacted since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Work and study continues to be of high concern for young people with 77% of those surveyed reporting a negative impact on their work, study, or financial situation. Further, 50% reported that COVID-19 had impacted on their confidence to achieve future goals

However, findings from the study also illustrate some positives including greater connections with family and friends. Ninety per cent of young people spoke to either family or friends to help them cope with the impacts of COVID-19, and ‘talking to family’ was the most frequently reported coping strategy, revealing the value of family in young people’s mental health treatment and support. Eighty-two per cent of young people who reported talking to family as a way of coping indicated that this was a helpful strategy.

We also saw young people engage in self care strategies to support their wellbeing during this time, indicating young people visiting headspace have high levels of mental health literacy, utilising roughly four

(average 4.6) individual strategies to support themselves.

Seeking help and support to get through tough times is crucial to help young people build the skills to get through tough times, and of those young people attending a headspace centre or receiving in person or over the phone support, the majority (92%) rated the experience as helpful.

For more information and the full report see here.