Why young people are facing bigger issues than any previous generation?
Australia has long considered itself the lucky country, but the youth of today are facing challenges unlike anything our previous generations have had to deal with. From rising suicide rates to under-education, the leaders of tomorrow are facing an uphill battle. Here’s how it is impacting their livelihood – and why we need to start tackling these problems today.
- Growing suicide rates
One of the most distressing facts about young Australians is that suicide is the leading cause of death for those aged between 15 and 24. And the issue is getting worse, not better. Over the past decade, the suicide rate in young people has grown from 10.8 deaths per 100,000 population to 16.1 deaths. After the huge disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many experts believe the problem will only worsen in the coming years.
Education, support and interventions at critical times are all vital tools in lowering Australia’s suicide rate, but it’s also important for parents, guardians, family members and friends to know the warning signs and triggers of youth suicide.
- Lack of education
We might think of ourselves as being a country that provides high-quality education for every child, but the truth is that we are lagging far behind most first-world countries. In a UNICEF report of 41 high and middle-income nations, Australia ranked third-last (39 out of 41) in achieving quality education. As UNICEF’s CEO Tony Stuart put it: “[This] raises serious red flags for children’s learning and development, which can severely impact their chances in life.”
So it’s no wonder one in five young Australians are disengaged with education, and an even greater number don’t think school is important at all. How can we help young people re-engage at school and open up new opportunities for them? Does the system simply require a little support, or does it need a complete overhaul?
- Poor mental health
The stigma around mental health may be lessening, but for years it’s been ignored as a topic we simply don’t talk about. Obviously that only makes the problem worse, and for young people who perhaps don’t feel safe enough to speak about mental health with their family and friends, this can lead to poor life choices and a lack of options as they get older.
One in four young Australians live with a diagnosable mental health condition – such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse. As a community, we need to address this growing issue and change the way we talk about and treat mental health.
- Lack of work prospects
As humans we need a very little to actually survive: food, water, air and shelter. But to truly live, we need much more. We need connections with others, we need love, we need growth, we need identity. We also need a purpose in life, and for many of us this achieved through our work.
But with one in three young Australians being either unemployed or underemployed, the prospect of finding purpose through work is growing weaker every year. How can we expect the youth of today to become tomorrow’s leaders when they can’t even earn a living to pay their rent and put food on their table?
We can change the narrative
Yes, these are big issues facing young people, but it doesn’t have to be this way forever. That’s why Brothers In Need is focused on getting into the community and making an active change in young people’s lives. Whether it’s inspiring and mentoring youth through our School Workshops or getting them excited about sport and education in our Youth Programs, we believe every young person should have the opportunity to live their best life.