The impact of 2020 on young Australians - headspace day 2020

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New research from headspace reveals young Australians risk more mental health issues as wellbeing declines.

headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation has revealed the serious impact 2020 is having on the wellbeing and mental health of young Australians.

The research was announced to coincide with the fifth annual headspace day – a national day of support for the mental health and wellbeing of young people across Australia.

The survey has revealed that:

  • one-third of young Australians (34%) report high or very high levels of psychological distress, higher among young women than young men.
  • one in two young people (51%) were unable to carry out their daily activities on at least one day in the previous 2 weeks (41% in 2018).
  • rates of coping or ‘dealing with life’ have significantly dropped among 12-14-year-olds and among 22-25-year-olds.

Jason Trethowan, CEO of headspace says, “What’s highly concerning is that one-third of young Aussies are already reporting high or very high levels of psychological distress, treble what they were in 2007, but we’re also seeing the impacts of a really challenging year affecting their sense of general wellbeing

“Young people are telling us COVID-19 has impacted their lives significantly. They’ve missed out on many of the usual social connections and school milestones this year – and this comes on top of some of the worst natural disasters our country has faced including drought, floods and bushfire crisis.”

“We’ve seen a drop in their ability to manage their daily activities at school, home and work and that’s affecting their sense of wellbeing, their relationships and how they cope.”

“We know there’s a direct correlation between the decline in functioning over a sustained period and bigger mental health challenges, so it’s crucial we help them get on top of things now.”

“That’s why we’re using headspace Day this year to encourage all young people to think about the small steps they can take – every day – to build in some strategies to support wellbeing” says Mr Trethowan.

“It’s a crucial part of managing mental health – whether its 15 seconds or 5 minutes, make it a habit and create some time and space to focus on the everyday things that make you smile or simply slow down and breathe a little easier.”

Emma, a member of the headspace national Youth Reference Group shares the small steps she does every day to get through tough times, “Something I try and do every day for my mental health is putting some time aside to exercise, that might be yoga, a full work out, or even a short walk. Giving myself this time and doing something I love has been really helpful for me.”

Headspace collaborated with young people throughout Australia to develop the following tips to help get started on the 'Small Steps' every day:

To get involved follow headspace on social media and share your favourite tip or illustration using #headspacedaytips 

You can also visit or for healthy headspace tips

Remember, if you or a young person you know is struggling they can seek support at headspace through face-to-face, online or telephone services. Visit the headspace website to find out more.