Date(s) - 10/06/2023 - 18/06/2023
In February 2022, the European Parliament has openly addressed that the EU must tackle COVID-19’s impact on youth and mental health (14-17 February 2022 Strasbourg plenary session) based on the evidences pointed out by the Eurofound’s “Impact of COVID-19 on young people in the EU” in 2021. This research confirmed the direct association between lockdown measures and reduced mental well-being, as well as lower satisfaction with life. Additionally, several national surveys in European countries indicated that the share of young people with mental health conditions has more than doubled compared to the pre-crisis level (Eurofound 2021).
Prevalence of symptoms of anxiety and depression has risen dramatically among young people and remains higher than pre-crisis levels, driven by issues related to the social dimension (loneliness, depression), from limited mobility and physical activity, from closure of face-to-face educational services and from the cancellation of social events (Eurofound 2021). Last but not least, young people have also reported experiencing boring routines, stress and compulsive use of smartphones, among other issues (EMPL, “Youth in EUrope: Effects of COVID-19 on their economic and social situation” committee 2021).
This has resulted in major consequences such as a general sense of insecurity, lower emotional well-being and negative feelings, in some cases leading to suicidal thoughts. Almost two-thirds of people (64%) in the age group 18–34 years were at risk of depression in spring 2021. Young people’s poor mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic might also worsen their employment and educational prospects in the longer run.
Certain factors affecting mental health like feeling isolated might vanish with the end of lockdowns but the European Youth Forum, however, fears that affects may magnify pre-existing inequalities, affecting those from marginalised backgrounds the most. In particular, young people already experiencing mental health issues before the pandemic and those from disadvantaged groups were particularly exposed to such negative consequences. For instance, those already deemed most at risk grew more disconnected from education, youth services and support, while many were forced to remain indoors almost all the time, often in overcrowded living spaces (Eurofound, “Impact of COVID-19 on young people in the EU”, 2021).
So, there should be no surprise in finding that mental health and wellbeing has been included inside the 11 European Youth Goals which are part of the EU Youth strategy for the period 2019 – 2027.
Participants were from Latvia , Italy , Estonia , Belgium , Spain , Slovenia , Bulgaria , Romania , and Slovakia . There were 5 participants from each country.