The United States, France, and Spain had the highest anxiety levels among youth, while Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia had the lowest levels.
According to a global poll, young people are more prone than older people to feel nervous and depressed, but they are also more optimistic.
Between January and June 2021, the United Nations organization for humanitarian assistance to children (UNICEF) and the polling company Gallup conducted a study of over 22,000 people from 21 different nations. Analysts were able to compare how various generations felt about one another and their environment because half of the participants were between the ages of 15 and 24 and the other half were 40 or older.
In the median countries questioned, 36% of young people and 30% of elderly respondents stated they “frequently” felt apprehensive, concerned, or anxious, respectively. Additionally, young individuals were more likely than older persons to report feeling down or uninterested in activities, with 19% versus 15%.
In a subsequent, anonymous interview with UNICEF, a 24-year-old Asian American woman stated, “There is definitely more uncertainty than ever before.” She admitted that she had battled suicide thoughts.
Today, she added, “it’s less about wondering, like, how’s the world going to end.” How is the world evolving, sort of? And how are we supposed to keep up? And are we able to keep up?
The issue is worse in affluent countries: youth reported feeling less anxious in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria and more anxious in Spain, France, and the U.S. Young people in Japan, Spain, and the U.K. were most likely to predict that today’s children will outperform their parents financially, while those in Ethiopia, Indonesia, and Nigeria saw the most promising economic prospects.
According to the survey, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on young people’s mental health all around the world. According to a study published in The Lancet in October, COVID-19 contributed to an extra 53 million episodes of serious depression and 76 million cases of anxiety disorders globally. More young people and women than older persons were impacted.
However, young people are also much more likely to express hope for the future, according to the UNICEF survey. In the median country studied, 57% of young people felt that “each new generation makes the world a better place.” Only 39% of senior individuals agreed.
According to Laurence Chandy, director of UNICEF’s Office of Global Insight and Policy, “In the West, there’s this concept that young people nowadays are overwhelmed with all the awful things occurring in the world and there’s this sense of doom and gloom – we find that they’re pretty hopeful.”
The most upbeat nation rated was Indonesia, whose gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has increased sevenfold since 1998. Younger Indonesians, at 82%, and older Indonesians, at 78%, both agreed that the world is getting better with each passing generation.
According to Clara Evi Citraningtyas, dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Business at Universitas Pembangunan Jaya, Indonesia’s history backs up this conviction in the influence of younger generations. In Indonesian reform movements, such as the 1998 student protests that resulted in the overthrow of dictator Suharto, youth have always played a significant role.
According to Citraningtyas, who has researched how Indonesian youth responded to the pandemic, “youth/young generation have brought about tremendous changes throughout Indonesian history.”
However, 37% of young Indonesians stated they frequently feel concerned or anxious. It’s hardly the only nation where optimism and anxiety are prevalent: Young Americans are more than twice as likely as older Americans to report experiencing anxiety frequently (50% versus 24%), but an even greater proportion of young Americans, 67%, believe that things are getting better.
“I believe that civilization has advanced significantly. A 15-year-old Florida girl remarked, “I think that a lot of the children nowadays are pointing in the right direction, even if there’s still a long way to go.
Young people experiencing such anxiety is concerning, but it may also indicate that they are simply more willing to discuss mental health.
The American youngster stated, “We kind of have mental health classes at school where they talk about how it’s normal to feel depressed and it’s acceptable to feel nervous and unhappy.” And if you do need support, you can turn to your friends, your family, or a teacher; you shouldn’t be embarrassed about it.
In India and Ethiopia, respondents from both generations were more inclined to agree with the statement “mental health is a personal subject that people may best work through on their own.” On the other side, people in Zimbabwe and the US were more likely to agree that “getting assistance from others and sharing experiences is the greatest way to treat mental health.”
Teenagers and adults from all over the world concurred that the current generation is different when it comes to discussing their emotions in public.
A 15-year-old Argentine girl claimed, “People are more open to talking about different things. “Children expressing themselves and offering their thoughts is now more accepted.”
Nowadays, it is more acceptable for kids to express themselves.
A 63-year-old man from rural Bangladesh claimed during an interview that he once witnessed neighbors starving to death. If kids asked their families for something they couldn’t give, they would be physically punished. Now, there is no longer such acute poverty among children in his nation. They don’t hesitate to communicate their emotions and wants.
“I never once begged my grandmother or my uncle for anything. We used to be terrified. But without hesitation, my kids ask for whatever they want,” he remarked.
He claimed that many kids are spoilt because they believe that because of their education, they are better than their parents. Nevertheless, he also respects their originality.
Our nation’s youth are incredibly intelligent, the older man said.
‘I gave up dreaming’
There are numerous plausible causes for the rise in stress and anxiety among young people. Of fact, the COVID-19 epidemic was a major cause of anxiety.
“As our school and tests are not being held for a while, I practically stopped thinking about my future, a 15-year-old Bangladeshi girl stated. “I halted my dreaming.”
Another juvenile girl in Kenya claimed that COVID-19 led to widespread job losses and school closures. Because she cannot afford electricity, she studies by the light of a paraffin lamp.
I occasionally go without eating, but my neighbor always has everything,” she stated. She claims that she is yet positive because of her faith in God.
Given that they will likely live long enough to witness its worst effects, it may appear as though climate change could also be a source of fear for young people. However, the UNICEF team claimed it was shocked to discover that most people in many nations, particularly poorer ones, didn’t even understand what the term “climate change” meant. For instance, 88% of young people in Nigeria were unable to explain the word or had never heard of it.
Richer respondents were more aware of and concerned about climate change, although there were also some generational differences. In the United States, which is the second-largest carbon emitter in the world, just 43% of elderly people and 62% of young people agree that the government should take considerable action to combat climate change. Both generations in the U.K. concur that the government must take action.
Technology has a significant impact on mental health as well. People of all ages agreed that the internet is a significant cause of pain for young people, isolating and lonely them around the world.
“Nobody leaves their homes; everyone is cooped up at home using the internet and computers. Childhood back then was better, “An Argentinean man in his 40s said.
The 15-year-old Bangladeshi girl felt roughly the same, despite being less than half his age and living on the opposite side of the world.
“Since everyone can be reached via social media, nobody leaves the house, she claimed. “I never even leave our main gate. However, when my parents were young, they played together. Our peers are so narrow-minded.”
Young people also claim that technology may be a great source of connection and delight. Video games in particular, according to the young Asian American woman, had a significant impact on her life.
Being able to appreciate everyone’s creativity from all over while still being alive is a blessing “She spoke.
Choose a question to see the percentage of respondents that agreed with it: