It is urgent to protect young Spaniards. preserve your mental health, facilitate access to treatment if required and look after your professional future They should now form part of the political and social agenda of the leaders and administrations of this country. And it is that the ‘Youth Barometer. Health & Wellness’prepared by the Mutua Madrileña Foundation and FAD Youth Foundation and presented this Thursday, offers bleak conclusions since young people say their physical and mental health is worse than five years agoa deterioration that was already observed in 2019 and that the pandemic has aggravated and prolonged.
“Listen to your children, build bridges,” he has claimed Lawrence Cooklingeneral director of the Fundación Mutua Madrileña during the presentation of the report.
And it is that, after having interviewed 1,500 young Spaniards between 15 and 29 years old, the study reveals that more than half (56.4%) consider that they have had psychological, psychiatric, or mental health problems in the last year. Women also perceive that they have a worse state of health than men, with a difference of up to 10 percentage points. However, 49% did not ask Professional Help because economically they cannot afford it (37.3%) or because they underestimated the problem (34%) believing that it would solve itself.
The ‘Youth Barometer on Health and Well-being’ has had two previous editions, corresponding to 2017 and 2021 in order to understand and address the health status of the young population. Thus, while in 2017, 86.7% of young people declared have good health, this percentage has been reduced to 54.6% in 2021. In addition, the search for professional help has decreased: if in 2019, 59.5% sought it, in 2021 only 50.8% did so. “It is very serious,” Cooklin has sentenced.
With respect to underestimate mental health problemswomen and the youngest (15-19 years old) opt more for reasons such as embarrassment or the cost. “Mental illnesses still seem like a social stigma and are not counted,” said the person in charge. That is why he has advocated “maintaining fluid and sincere communication channels between the youngest and children”.
“Terribly revealing”, continued the director general of the Fundación Mutua Madrileña, is that the perception of mental health related problems they have skyrocketed: while those who acknowledge having had them “very frequently” in 2017 were 6.2% of young people, this figure has risen to 15.9% in 2021, especially among women. The same has happened among those who claim to have suffered from them “from time to time” (37.5% in 2019 to 40.5% in 2021).
Of the 37.5% of young people who admitted having been diagnosed at some time by a professional, they were fundamentally diagnosed by depression (16.9%) and anxiety disorders, panic or phobias (16.5%). In fact, the depression it is more frequent among the oldest, the group between 25 and 29 years.
Eight out of ten have suffered with more or less frequency some symptom of emotional discomfort in the last year, being the sadness, apathy, and concentration problems the most frequent. By sex, in addition, there are notable differences: women experience the feeling of being sad, depressed or hopeless almost 20 percentage points higher than men (66.3% vs. 47.6%). In the case of boys, in addition to depression and anxiety, post-traumatic stress problems, obsessive-compulsive disorders and substance addiction disorders stand out (13.8%, compared to 3.4% of them).
the shadow of suicide
In the last year, andl 35.4% of Spanish youth have experienced at least once or with some frequency ideas suicidal, a figure very similar to that of 2019 (34.3%). It is also observed a increased suicidal ideation with high frequencywhich has gone from 5.8% in 2019 to 8.9% in 2021.
Also worrying is the change experienced by the group of young people from 15 to 19 years old before and after COVID-19 that has gone from being the group that experienced the least suicidal ideas and least frequently in 2019, to being the group of young people that experiences them the most and most frequently in 2021. “This is translating in an objective reality”, Cooklin pointed out, recalling that suicides in those under 15 years of age doubled in 2020, according to the INE. In addition, there are gender differences: among them it is more common to experience suicidal ideas but the frequency with which they experience them is higher among men (7.8% vs 9.6%).
The study also highlights the fact that one in four young people (24.9%) has used psychoactive drugs with or without a medical prescription in the last year.
Another problem added to all these data has to do with the context in which they live. The job insecurity, unemployment and low wages These are the three main concerns that have always ranked first in previous barometers. The difference, now, is that the crisis caused by the pandemic also means that their view of the future is not optimistic and that only two out of ten (21.4%) think that these problems will improve in the future. In fact, one in three (32.3%) believes that they will get worse and 40% that they will remain the same. Pessimism is greater in older boys and girls.
Young people, moreover, do not believe that the country’s situation is going to improve and for this reason 63% declare that they feel “very or quite stressed” with work or studies, while 51.4% declare that their economic situation stresses them out. Women are, again, the most affected.
The report also wanted to have the opinion of the disabled youth, for whom the scenario is even worse. 22.9% feel limited by a disability, of which one in four experiences serious limitations. In turn, 21.1% of young people state that they feel limited by some chronic illness and 5.5% of young people have a certificate of disability or incapacity (4.4% of women and 6.7% of the men).
“We must also look at vulnerable groups because not all young people start from the same situation,” he recalled Anna Sanmartindeputy director of the Reina Sofía Center on Adolescence and Youth.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism