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2 Jan, 2023 06:00

More young Brits ‘too sick’ to work – official data

16-34-year-olds are more frequently citing mental health issues as the reason for inactivity, the ONS reports
More young Brits ‘too sick’ to work – official data

Mental health issues are keeping Britain’s younger population out of work at record levels, at a time when the country struggles with a worsening economic crisis, Bloomberg reports, citing official data.

According to data compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the country’s young working age people are suffering from long-term health issues that are keeping them out of work at increasingly alarming rates.

The ONS report shows there was a 29% increase in 16-24-year-olds citing long-term sickness as a reason for being economically inactive, and a 42% jump among people aged 25-34 who said the same. The data was reported for the second quarter of 2022, compared to the same period before the pandemic.

The report indicates that the youngest workers have been facing a recession and wages that fail to keep up with double-digit inflation.

Work-related stress was listed as the “biggest driver” of inactivity among 50-54-year-olds. Statistics show that overall mental health issues account for a total of around 600,000 economically inactive people across all age groups, a 10% increase on pre-pandemic figures.

According to Louise Murphy, an economist at the Resolution Foundation, health among the younger UK generation was already deteriorating “quite dramatically” before the pandemic. But the issue has become more acute since, she said.

“There’s no doubt that Covid has accelerated the mental health problems in this age group,” the CEO of mental health charity Sane, Marjorie Wallace, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

“They’ve been out of schools, potentially exposed to fractious domestic atmospheres at home, and spent more time on social media.”

NHS Digital data shows that one-in-four 17-19-year-olds in Britain have had a probable mental disorder last year, up from one-in-six in 2021.

The number of inactive males with mental health issues reportedly increased to 37,000 last year, up by more than 100% from 2006 figures, and substantially higher than levels seen among women.

“The reason that (deteriorating health) hasn’t been a big story in recent years is that it was this almost exactly outweighed by fewer young women being inactive to look after families,” Murphy explained, adding: “But when you split it up by type of inactivity, it’s quite clear.”

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