One in ten young people feel that their life is meaningless and not worth living, according to a recent survey by The Prince’s Trust. The YouGov Youth Index, based on interviews with over 2000 16-25 year-olds across Britain, revealed that more than a quarter of young adults claim to feel depressed on a regular basis, with one in five stating that they feel like crying “often” or “always”. Furthermore, a considerable 47% said that they frequently felt stressed.

The study aims to examine the state of young people’s lives as well as their level of confidence about the future. The first of its kind, it has produced some worrying results, exposing a severe lack of confidence, motivation and general satisfaction with life amongst the youths of today.

Martina Milburn, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, described ‘an increasingly vulnerable generation’, and highlighted the importance of a good support network, particularly in the form of family, for general happiness and mental wellbeing.

Yet it is not only students who are feeling low. Of those questioned, 22% cited dead end jobs as the reason for their unhappiness, while nearly half (44%) were bored with their occupation in general. The study showed that the young people most affected were those who were not in education or work, which leads to a concern for students and graduates hoping to enter into the world of work in the midst of the recession.

As the current economic climate is making it increasingly difficult for graduates to find and sustain employment, there are fears that a growing number of students may be starting to experience feelings of hopelessness and despair. Psychological and counselling services at the University of Sussex are seeing more and more students with high levels of anxiety over their future prospects. Heightened levels of financial insecurity are also presenting some students with an overwhelming amount of stress.

However, this does not mean that there needs to be any greater level of concern for the long-term mental health of Sussex students. John Terrill, the Mental Health Advisor at Sussex, states that the number of students at the university suffering from genuine, long-term mental health problems, such as clinical depression, has remained fairly stable over the past two or three years – at around two percent of the population of the student body. While there may be a rise in the number of students who experience emotional lows and periods of stress, especially among those who are nearing graduation, it is likely that these dips in mood will not be too serious and will only last for a brief amount of time.

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