More young people in Norfolk feel stressed, anxious, or hopeless about life
- Credit: Prince’s Trust
More young people in Norfolk are feeling stressed, anxious and even hopeless than in the last decade, new research has revealed.
The study from the Prince's Trust took a survey from 2,194 young people aged 16 to 25 nationally, and found the happiness and confidence young people felt in their emotional health dropped to the lowest levels since the study was first commissioned in 2009.
In Norfolk, 62pc of young people said they regularly felt stressed, 48pc said they regularly felt anxious, and 31pc went as far to say they felt hopeless on a regular basis.
Alex Deeley, 22, was not surprised by the results. Mr Deeley, from Diss, became homeless when he lost his job as a waiter. He was sofa-surfing, had no career prospects, and his mental health was worsening.
He said: 'A lot of the time it just felt like I didn't have a place I could call my home, when I was sofa surfing I always felt like I was intruding.'
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Eventually, Mr Deeley got a place in a homeless hostel, and although he said it was an improvement, uncertainty remained.
'I was in an existential purgatory,' he said.
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'I was housed but I was completely uncertain about the nature of my future. I also lacked social skills – the idea of approaching strangers seemed like an entirely alien concept to me. At that moment, I felt that I needed support, but I couldn't articulate what kind of support I needed and didn't know who or what was needed to help me out of my predicament.'
And Mr Deeley said he was not alone, and that these issues were not just caused by homelessness.
He said since the economic crash in 2008, the quality of life for young people had plummeted - he cited examples such as not being able to get on the housing ladder and being in insecure work.
And the Prince's Trust report echoed that job prospects caused a lot of concern. It found three fifths of young people in Norfolk (62%) agreed having a job gives (or would give) them a sense of purpose, and 38pc thought having a job was good for their mental health.
The latest statistics from the Office of National Statistics showed 11pc of young people in the UK are not in employment, education or training.
Some 17pc of those surveyed in Norfolk had experienced losing a job through redundancy, having a contract terminated or not renewed unexpectedly, or being fired.
And some 54pc said they had experienced mental health problems.
Mr Deeley added: 'I'm aware mental health services in Norfolk have gone into special measures. I tried to get CBT but I've been on a waiting list for months now and I've not heard anything back. That waiting time itself is dangerous because it allows it to fester.'
Nick Stace, UK chief executive at The Prince's Trust, said: 'It should ring alarm bells for us all that young people are feeling more despondent about their emotional health than ever before. This is a generation rapidly losing faith in their ability to achieve their goals in life, who are increasingly wary of and disillusioned with the jobs market and at risk of leaving a wealth of untapped potential in their wake.
'One of the most important things we can do to stem this flow is to show young people that it's worth having high aspirations, that opportunities to earn a good living and progress in a career are out there and that they'll be supported along the way to live, learn and earn.
'For this to happen, it is vital that government, charities and employers across the UK invest more in developing young people's skills and in providing opportunities for them to progress in fulfilling, sustainable careers. Underpinning this should be commitments to initiatives that promote positive mental wellbeing, such as Time to Change, that create a culture of openness and in which young people do not feel like they have to face their problems alone.'
The Prince's Trust report also found some of the factors that could be contributing to the sudden decline in relation to emotional health.
It showed that more than a third of young people in Norfolk (37pc) think they put too much pressure on themselves to achieve success.
Many young people in Norfolk worry about their future overall (61pc), for their finances (63pc) and worry about 'not being good enough in general' (43pc).
Despite these concerns, 12pc of young people would not ask for help if they were feeling overwhelmed by something.
The Prince's Trust runs a range of employability and enterprise programmes designed to help boost young people's confidence and skills at venues across the UK, and also delivers a growing number of services remotely through Prince's Trust Online.
• For more information, visit www.princes-trust.org.uk
Prince's Trust helped woman who was 'pretty much a recluse'
Before going on The Prince's Trust team programme, Megan Welton, from Norwich, said she was 'pretty much a recluse'.
She had few friends, lived in a small village with no transport and had very severe OCD which prevented her from doing normal, everyday tasks. She was not in education or work and, as a result, rarely left the house.
She said: 'Before joining the programme I was worried I would develop new OCD rituals and I wasn't confident at all about meeting new people. Now, looking back, the number of things I've achieved because of The Prince's Trust are too numerous to mention. I made close friends, gained experience and, most of all, developed confidence in myself to try new things.'
Thanks to the programme, Miss Welton received a DBS and is now working full-time. She hopes to climb to managerial level through her company's apprenticeship scheme.
She added: 'Without The Prince's Trust I would probably still be living in the same small town with no transport, still unemployed and lacking in confidence. Whenever anyone asks me 'was it worth it?' I always tell them that the programme was a life-changing experience and, if they're in any doubt about what to do in life, go for it.'