headspace supporting young people to navigate the turbulent quest for full-time employment

headspace echoes the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) recent report acknowledging the myriad difficulties young people face today in attaining full-time employment. Key to this is recognising and supporting young people’s wellbeing during a time that can be both turbulent and exciting. The report, ‘The New Work Reality’, notes that among 18-24 year-olds looking for work: 28 per cent reported anxiety in the last 12 months and 41 per cent said they were affected by stress.

This is a reality that headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, sees on a daily basis. Almost one third of young people aged 17-24 accessing our services are disengaged with work and/or study. There is a two-way link between youth unemployment and mental health; unemployment in young people can lead to poor mental health, and young people with poor mental health are more likely to be excluded from the work force.

As the report recognises, there are a number of barriers young people face when making the transition to full-time work. These include lack of work experience, lack of appropriate education and lack of career management skills.

In addition to work and study programs run through headspace centres nationwide, there are two unique online services designed to support young Australians in overcoming these barriers: the Digital Work and Study Service, and the Digital Industry Mentor Service. Mental health and employment support is integrated – looking to reduce the anxiety and stress that the job search can create.

Young people aged 15-24 can connect with a work and study specialist through the Digital Work and Study Service, to help develop a résumé, explore career planning options, refine job searches. They can also put career skills into practice through industry-based mock interviews and work experience placements.

One participant from the service said, “I think for young people a lot of the time with the job hunt at the moment, it can really feel like you’re alone. I would put all my energy into searching for a few jobs once or twice and then really lose hope after things not working out. But having someone behind you [from the service], cheering you on really helped.”

The Digital Industry Mentor Service takes young people right into the world of work, connecting them online with an industry mentor to access personalised, one-on-one career advice.

These services are focused on enabling young people to navigate the changing career landscape and develop industry specific insights and skills.

Research shows that work provides positive and protective factors to a young person’s overall wellbeing. headspace joins FYA’s voice for increased focus on initiatives and policies that empower young people during this challenging time in their lives.

Jason Trethowan is the CEO at headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, providing mental health and wellbeing services to young people aged 12-25, their families and friends.