The Pandemic Has Left Young People Literally “Unable to Cope With Life”


Close-Up Of Sad Woman Hugging Cushion While Sitting At Home
A dejected youth.
Getty Images/EyeEm

It would seem the kids are not alright. In fact, a staggering percentage of them consider themselves simply “unable to cope with life,” which, honestly, same.

This not entirely surprising update on the current state of the youth comes to us from the U.K., where one of the nation’s leading charities just returned the worst ever findings in the 12-year history of its annual survey of young people’s happiness. According to The Guardian, the Prince’s Trust’s 2020 Youth Index found that half of 16- to 25-year-olds reported an overall decline in mental health last year. More than half reported always or often feeling anxious and 68 percent said they felt they were “missing out on being young.” Worse yet, many have failed to glimpse any sign of light at the end of the tunnel, with 38 percent of the dismayed youth population admitting to “dreading the year ahead.”

While I, as someone who has never considered “coping with life” to be among my strongest skills, find these attitudes quite relatable, such a level of mass despair among young people is troubling indeed. Whatever could be the matter? It’s hard to say just what exactly has got the kids down, but it’s possible that whatever it is could be related to similar levels of discontent playing out across the pond. Here in the U.S., a survey from May 2020 found that most Americans aren’t doing too well at all. For some reason or other, a record number of Americans considered themselves “not too happy” last year. Results from the survey conducted by the NORC at the University of Chicago represented a five-decade happiness low for America, finding the nation in a greater state of collective distress than it had seen since the Vietnam war. Mysterious!

While we can’t say for sure what’s behind all the unhappiness, Jonathan Townsend, chief executive of the charity behind the recent U.K. survey, has a hunch. “The pandemic has taken a devastating toll on young people’s mental health and wellbeing,” he said in a statement. “Many believe they are missing out on being young, and sadly we know that the impact of the pandemic on their employment prospects and overall wellbeing could continue far into the future.”

It’s impossible to say for sure, but it seems like this whole pandemic thing maybe hasn’t been great for our collective emotional and mental wellbeing. Weird!

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