iPad with Mental Health Matters dispplayed on screen

Linked – People in 20s more likely to be out of work because of poor mental health than those in early 40s

This makes sense and fits with what happened in my life as well.

It was in my 20s when my mental health deteriorated. The impact of that would eventually lead to me not working for a little more than a year. More importantly, though, as this article explains is happening now in the UK, is that those mental health struggles meant I didn’t finish college, didn’t hold down a job where I could learn new skills and advance in my career, and left me behind economically when compared to others in my age bracket.

By the time I was in my 40s, the mental health struggles still existed, but I had learned better coping mechanisms, learned new skills that have helped me advance my career, and have an employment history that shows off my abilities and helps make me employable.

Was I still behind compared to others in my age bracket? Yes. There’s no way to replace the years I lost economically.

I’m 55 now, and I am still behind economically compared to where I could be if I hadn’t spent those years dealing with mental health disasters instead of finishing college and starting my career. I’m not complaining; I do pretty well for myself and am content with where I am. I was one of the lucky ones who had access to some mental health resources and was able to get to this point in my life, which has helped me get to this point in my career. Many people don’t. To me, this is the point of this study:

According to official data, 34% of people aged 18 to 24 reported symptoms of mental disorder, such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder in 2021-22.

It is a significant increase on the 2000 figure of 24%, with young women one-and-a-half times more likely to be negatively affected.

“Attention on this issue has tended to focus on higher education, but what should most worry us is when poor mental health comes together with poor education outcomes,” said Louise Murphy, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation.

“The economic consequences of poor mental health are starkest for young people who don’t go to university, with one in three young non-graduates with a common mental disorder currently workless.”

When you’re young and not on the standard education/career path due to mental health, there’s no career history or learned skills to fall back on. I think many employers would view you as unemployable in our current environment. I’m not saying that should be how it is, but it is likely the way it is. My story illustrates the path out of that, but it also contains some privilege. I was able to go to therapy. My family gave me a place to live while I wasn’t working. I had access to learning tools. I had to work hard to create opportunities to learn new skills, but I also found myself in places where I could do that. I had help.

I’m not so sure that many young people have help. That will make it much more difficult for young 20-somethings to look like the young 40-somethings of today in twenty years. With the significant increase in rates of mental health issues in young people these days, it’s imperative that we change some of the ways we do business, first, by providing more support and help to our young workers, and second, by providing opportunity to all young people. We need to move beyond requiring higher education for jobs where the skills necessary don’t meet that level of education. We must have available resources for our workers to get help so they are not left behind. We need those same resources in colleges, high schools, and other educational institutions so that young people can continue their education and that adults can have affordable educational options to continue their education later in life. We need reasonable accommodations and flexibility to allow different types of people to come and work for us.

In short, we need to provide better support and opportunities for everyone. That’s where we start to tackle the mental health epidemic.


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