Spanish youth is getting worse and worse. More than half of young people between 15 and 29 years old claim to have had mental health problems in the last year and 36% have been diagnosed at some time. These are the results of the Youth Barometer, Health and Well-being 2021, based on 1,500 interviews and published this Thursday by the FAD Youth and Mutua Madrileña Foundations.
The year that broke the mental health of children and adolescents
The general director of FAD Juventud, Beatriz Martín Padura, has underlined in the presentation of the report her concern about the increase in young people who present suicidal ideas "continually or very frequently": they are almost 9%, three points more than in 2019 when the second barometer was published. The percentage that has experienced these ideas at some time, in a more isolated way, in the last year is much higher: 44.3%. The increase in this case is four points.
In 2019, those between 15 and 19 years old reported these ideas least frequently (5.5% indicated having experienced suicidal ideation continuously or very frequently) and in 2021 they reported the most (12.3%). Among women it is more common, but the frequency, says the barometer, is higher among men.
"This increase in adolescents is especially worrying, everything indicates that the youth population is the one that has suffered the most from the effect of the pandemic on their mental health," said Lorenzo Cooklin, general director of the Mutua Madrileña Foundation. Regarding gender, among young women it is more common to experience suicidal ideas, but the frequency with which they experience them is higher among men: 9.6% of them, compared to 7.8% of them who suffer them continuously or very often
Young people say they suffer, but do not ask for much help. Or they can't ask for it. Half of the 56% who felt psychological problems in the last year did not seek professional help and 20% did not tell anyone. The reasons were mainly economic or shame (especially in adolescents) or related to downplaying their situation because they thought they could solve it. 53.7% of the kids who have taken medication in the last year have done so without a prescription, according to the barometer.
pessimism about the future
The self-perception that young people have of their health in general has been deteriorating in recent years by leaps and bounds: in 2017, 86.7% claimed to be in good or very good health to 54.6% in 2021. The stress that produces work and studies has been increasing since 2017 and six out of ten young people feel very or quite stressed about these issues. "In situations of stress, one in ten young people does not share it with anyone and prevents others from knowing that they have a problem, especially the youngest, which should be worrying as a society", emphasized Martín Padura, director general of the FAD.
Unemployment, low wages and job insecurity remain the problems that most concern young people. These three concerns have always ranked first in previous barometers, although on this occasion, the crisis caused by the pandemic also means that their view of the future is not optimistic and that only two out of ten (21.4%) think that these problems will improve in the future. In fact, one in three (32.3%) believes that they will get worse and 40% that they will remain the same. Pessimism is greater in older boys and girls within the studied range.