YOUNG people in Hampshire fear for their emotional health, with over two thirds worried about their future, as fears about money and generally ‘not being good enough’ pile up on their generation, according to new research by The Prince's Trust.

The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index, based on a survey of 2,194 respondents aged 16 to 25, found that the happiness and confidence young people across the UK feel in their emotional health have dropped to the lowest levels since the study was first commissioned in 2009.

According to the Index, which gauges young people’s wellbeing across a range of areas from working life to family relationships, the happiness young people experience in relation to their emotional health has plummeted by four points in just one year, from 61 to 57.

This is one of the biggest drops in any area attributed to wellbeing ever recorded by the Index, and is a score which has fallen considerably since 2010, when it stood at 70.

National confidence in future emotional health is also down by two points this year, to 65 – the lowest level so far.

When asked to describe how they feel, 61 per cent of young people in Hampshire said they regularly feel stressed, 53 per cent said they regularly feel anxious and 24 per cent go as far as to say they feel hopeless on a regular basis. Furthermore, 47 per cent of local young people say they have experienced a mental health problem.

The report also highlights some of the factors that could be contributing to the sudden decline in relation to emotional health. It shows that 40 per cent of young people in Hampshire think they put too much pressure on themselves to achieve success.

Many young people in Hampshire worry about their future overall (67 per cent), for their finances (66 per cent) and worry about ‘not being good enough’ in general (47 per cent). Despite these concerns, almost a third (31 per cent) of local young people would not ask for help if they were feeling overwhelmed by something.

Almost two thirds of young people in Hampshire (63 per cent) agree that having a job gives (or would give) them a sense of purpose, and half (49 per cent) think that having a job is good for their mental health. This makes the latest statistics from the Office of National Statistics, which show that 11 per cent of young people in the UK are not in employment, education or training, all the more worrying.

The Index suggests that today's job market can even have a negative impact on the wellbeing of those currently in work, as many jobs are insecure. Ten per cent of those surveyed in Hampshire had experienced losing a job through redundancy, having a contract terminated or not renewed unexpectedly, or being fired. Given that 47 per cent of young people nationally think they don’t cope well with setbacks in general, it is little surprise that 44 per cent of those who are working say they would struggle to stay positive if they lost their job, and – even more worryingly – a third (34 per cent) say losing their job could put their mental health at risk.

The findings were published in part two of The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index. Part one was published in January and revealed that the overall wellbeing of young people in the UK is at its lowest ever level, and that the number of those who don’t feel in control of their lives has increased by more than one third, from 28 per cent in the 2017 report to 39 per cent in the 2018 report.

Nick Stace, UK chief executive at The Prince’s Trust, said: “It should ring alarm bells for us all that young people are feeling more despondent about their emotional health than ever before. This is a generation rapidly losing faith in their ability to achieve their goals in life, who are increasingly wary of and disillusioned with the jobs market and at risk of leaving a wealth of untapped potential in their wake.

“One of the most important things we can do to stem this flow is to show young people that it’s worth having high aspirations, that opportunities to earn a good living and progress in a career are out there and that they’ll be supported along the way to live, learn and earn.

“For this to happen, it is vital that government, charities and employers across the UK invest more in developing young people’s skills and in providing opportunities for them to progress in fulfilling, sustainable careers. Underpinning this should be commitments to initiatives that promote positive mental wellbeing, such as Time to Change, that create a culture of openness and in which young people do not feel like they have to face their problems alone.

“Together, we can provide the practical and emotional support required to bring a generation back from the brink of futility, start a nationwide debate about their stake in society and empower all the positive contributions they can make to it.”

David Fass, CEO EMEA, Macquarie Group, said: “At Macquarie, the development and wellbeing of our people are key elements we invest in. The Prince’s Trust programmes help young people develop the resilience and self-confidence that unlocks so much for them when they enter the world of work which is why our partnership is so important to our business and our community.”

The Prince’s Trust is committed to supporting young people to develop the confidence to reach their full potential, as well as the resilience they need to tackle challenges effectively in their working and personal lives.

The charity runs a range of employability and enterprise programmes designed to help boost young people’s confidence and skills at venues across the UK, and also delivers a growing number of services remotely through Prince’s Trust Online.

In response to the findings of this latest report, The Trust has commissioned Young Minds to review some of its programme activity and recommend additional ways of contributing positively to the mental wellbeing of the young people it supports.

This year, The Prince’s Trust will support around 60,000 disadvantaged young people to develop the confidence and skills they need to succeed in life.