The kids are alright

The mental health of young Australians has improved over the last 12 months according to a survey by the Australian National University.

The results came from the Life In Australia Panel, which included 3,510 participants aged from 18 to 75. However, it was the 18-24 year old age group which drew some surprising findings.

James Hore, Mikaela Zuiderduyn, and Will Lawler aged 19-23 say they’re happy to be back at campus. Photo: Ash Ramos.

ANU centre for social research methods Associate Professor Nicholas Biddle says 67.4 percent of respondents said their life had improved in the last 12 months.

“This was the group that had the greatest improvement in outcomes as well as the group who was more likely to say themselves that their outcomes had improved,” he says.

“It’s still the case that younger Australians have worse mental health outcomes over older Australians, if you look at levels of life satisfaction, levels of psychological distress, its just that during the peak of the pandemic period the gap was even greater.”

On a scale of one to ten, how is your mental health? Video: Ash Ramos.

Dr Biddle say the result of the May 2022 election may have contributed to the improvement outcome of young Aussies who were found more likely to vote for Greens and Labor.

“One of the key findings to me was the substantial improvement in perceived relationship quality, so about 50 percent of younger Australians said their relationship quality had improved compared to only about 13 percent who said it got worse – and that’s not guaranteed,” he says.

“The fact that so many young Australians are saying that well now we can go out, now we can interact, now we can travel nationally and internationally, the strength in my relationships is better than what it was 12 months ago.”

Listen here for more from Dr Shean.
Dr Shean says with just over 3000 participants in the survey, there was little representation in Western Australia. Photo: Ash Ramos.

Edith Cowan University education lecturer and psychologist Dr Mandie Shean says we should be careful when reviewing findings like these as everyone is at different stages with their mental health and wellbeing.

“A lot of us have lost our routines of socialising and I think it’s important that belonging and connection is a fundamental need of humanity and we need to start to bring that back intentionally and not as a luxury item but as an important part of our daily routine,” she says.

Listen here for more from Dr Biddle.