More than 750,000 young people in the UK may feel they have nothing to live for, according to a survey by the Prince’s Trust.
The study found that long-term unemployed youngsters are facing “devastating” symptoms of mental illness and often self-harm – and almost a third have contemplated suicide.
Jobless 16 to 25-year-olds are also twice as likely as their peers to have been prescribed anti-depressants, with 40% of those who were out of work saying they faced symptoms of mental illness.
Out of more than 2,000 people who took part in the charity’s survey, those unemployed for more than a year were more likely to say they had no one to confide in.
The study found that 9% agreed with the statement: “I have nothing to live for”, and in its report the Trust pointed out that if 9% of all young people felt the same, there would be 751,230 across the country feeling that way.
Martina Milburn, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, said: “Unemployment is proven to cause devastating, long-lasting mental health problems among young people.”
“Thousands wake up every day believing that life isn’t worth living, after struggling for years in the dole queue.”
“More than 440,000 young people are facing long-term unemployment, and it is these young people that urgently need our help.”
“If we fail to act, there is a real danger that these young people will become hopeless, as well as jobless.”
In December, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that UK unemployment fell by 99,000 to 2.39 million in the three months to October – the lowest level since 2009.
But the Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index found that 16-25 year-olds were not necessarily feeling the benefits of the economic recovery.
Around 280 of those surveyed were not in employment, education or training, 166 had been unemployed for more than six months and 135 had been jobless for a year or more.
Prince’s Trust ambassador Danielle Stevens was diagnosed with depression and attempted suicide after being kicked out of college in her teens.
She said: “I felt like I had no reason to be here. I didn’t feel like it was worth living. I had no job, no education at the time.”
Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, commented: “This research proves that unemployment is a public health issue.
“It is one that must be tackled urgently and it is essential that youth unemployment is added to the public health agenda.”
“Unemployed young people are struggling in many aspects of their lives, from their mental health and wellbeing to their relationships and their qualifications and we must act quickly to end this.”
The Prince’s Trust has called for urgent support from the Government, health agencies and employers to help fund its work with long-term unemployed young people battling mental health issues.