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The well-being and mental health of young people in low - and middle - income countries have been dramatically affected by the series of crises hitting the world. As the international community continues to struggle with the impact of COVID-19, conflict and climate change, the latest report from the Young Lives project shows a long-running upward trend in young people’s well-being has been sharply reversed alongside widespread anxiety and depression. Young people are less confident about their futures for the first time in the 20-year study.

Young person sat down with hands held together © Aida Ashenafi

Before the pandemic, there had been a steady but notable upward trend in young people’s sense of well-being across all four countries in the Young Lives study - Peru, Vietnam, India and Ethiopia. But new data from the most recent survey, collected during the pandemic, shows young people reported a significant decline in well-being - and high levels of anxiety and depression.

The latest report shows global crises are triggering mental health issues among disadvantaged youth at a critical period in their lives - because long-term mental health issues often begin in adolescence and early adulthood.  Many countries are ill-equipped to manage this wave of anxiety and depression, as mental health support services for young people are hugely underfunded around the world – especially in poorer countries, where there is often an acute shortage of mental health specialists.

‘We are very concerned about the long-term impact of declining well-being and widespread anxiety and depression across our study countries. Urgent action is needed to protect, promote and care for young people’s mental health, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds,’ says Kath Ford, Senior Policy Officer, Young Lives and lead author of the new report.

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website

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