The impact of lower educational attainment on mental health is deeply worrying. 47% of young people with fewer than five A*-C GCSEs often or always feel down or depressed, compared with 30% of those who are more qualified. They are three times more likely to lack confidence, and significantly more likely to believe they won’t be able to achieve what they want in life. The survey also highlights a previously unidentified link between lower educational attainment and lack of routine during childhood (set bedtimes, regular mealtimes, consistency of housing). Those who lacked structure when growing up are markedly less happy than their peers.
There is a large discrepancy in how satisfied young people feel with their lives, depending on employment status. NEETs are less content with all areas of their lives than those in work, education or training. They are far more likely to feel down or depressed, and are more pessimistic about their family relationships and their friendships. Many are apprehensive about their future employment prospects, especially those who have been out of work for over a year. Youth unemployment is having an increasing impact on well-being.
The survey explores the aftermath of the riots. Young people in riot-affected areas are considerably less hopeful than their peers. Two-thirds feel the riots have had a negative effect on young people’s prospects in their areas.
Not everything in the report is gloomy. Overall confidence levels and happiness among young people have increased slightly in the last year. There are several inspiring case studies of young people who have turned their lives around as a result of Prince’s Trust initiatives.