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    Youth mental health is the silent pandemic

    Our kids are not as okay as we might think, and we need to listen.

    With COVID-19 all certainty was removed for young people. And that uncertainty continues every day as they get back into school, uni and work, and even more so now with the war in Ukraine and, closer to home, the floods in New South Wales and Queensland.

    Parents think young people are coping better than they are.

    New research shows more than 1 in 2 16-to-24-year-olds surveyed felt depressed or down in the last year, but a whopping 70% of parents were unaware young people felt that way.

    It also found that 2 in 3 young people felt unmotivated in the last year, but only 40% of parents believed their children felt like this.

    How did we become so out of touch with how our kids are feeling? Is it because we ourselves have been trying to navigate a world of uncertainty, taking it day by day? Or because many parents have been barely keeping their heads above water trying to do a full-time job while home schooling in lockdown?

    As a parent and as CEO of a health company that looks after the health and wellbeing needs of 3.7 million Australians, I’m worried, and you should be too.

    Youth mental health is the silent pandemic.

    Our claims data show the number of 10-to-29-year-olds being admitted to hospital for mental health related treatment is on the rise – up almost 10% nationally last year.

    Mental health issues don’t discriminate and can impact anyone. That’s why talking about the importance of mental health and wellbeing is so important at home, at work and at school.

    But there is hope for our kids.

    It’s our young people who are looking for ways to reverse the damage caused by the pandemic. More than 90% of young people surveyed are actively planning on improving their mental and physical health, while 1 in 10 are already addressing their mental health and wellbeing, for the first time in their lives.

    Let’s remember to check in with our kids. Ask them if they are okay. Listen to their worries and concerns. Make sure they feel safe to share what’s actually going on for them.

    Our kids are incredible, but they have been struggling – so let’s not forget about them.

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