Child and youth voice research findings

State of the Generation: 2021

AUTHOR: Youthline

This 2021 research sought to understand the issues young people are facing today and how these have been impacted by COVID-19 (560 yp providing survey and interview feedback).  It built on 2016 and 2019 surveys, with a focus on how COVID-19 has impacted the issues they face. Also explores how young people want to be supported.

Key findings and insights included:

  • Half of the young people we spoke to were in a positive headspace when completing the survey
  • COVID19 has had a profound effect on our mental wellbeing and sense of security
  • Much of what our young people have said are reflective of New Zealanders views on the whole
  • While mental health is still the main issue faced by 16-24 year olds, many other issues are coming to the fore. As a new addition to the list this year social media comes out as the second top issue. Suicide has retained the increase we saw in 2019.
  • Issues that were tapering off or slowly building have increased sharply this year, suggesting covid has compounded existing issues for some young people.
  • In contrast alcohol, drugs and smoking continue to be seen as less of an issue for young people.
  • There is a lot of variation across youth subgroups when it comes to what the biggest issues are, making it a complex landscape
  • Māori are youth were more likely to feel extra stormy than their counterparts. They are also impacted by issues with schooling and peer pressure more so than others as a result of COVID-19.
  • Rainbow youth are facing a multitude of mental health issues and over half see homophobia or transphobia as a problem. They have had a heightened response to the pandemic particularly around anxiety and
  • stress.
  • Asian youth are facing the same issues as others but to a lesser extent.
  • Although not in their top 5, violence is a much bigger issue in the eyes of Pacific youth (42%, vs. 26% overall). They also became most affected by economic uncertainty and employment worries in response to COVID
  • Younger Kiwis have a slightly different experience, with bullying and peer pressure being much bigger issues for their generation. Like our older youth, mental health and social media are problems for this group
  • Stress and anxiety have been impacted the most by COVID-19. Employment and job worries are most likely to have been caused by the pandemic.
  • Stress, employment, anxiety and economic uncertainty have been made worse for 16-24 year olds. For nearly a third of our younger cohort schooling has become more of an issue.
  • Some of the major themes that are causing youth stress on the back of the pandemic are around the fear of another lockdown, themsleves and others getting sick and the unknown in terms of the future
  • Young people feeling like they have less positive ways of coping with their problems than they were in 2019, as well as feeling less able to support their friends through tough times
  • Just over half felt helped in the way they were needed, with Māori a little more likely than others to feel supported when reaching out.
  • Most say they or their friends have never contacted a support organisation before. 
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