Youth mental health is the silent pandemic

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Medibank CEO David Koczkar says Australian children are "not as okay as we might think, and we need to listen."

"With COVID-19 all certainty was removed for young people," says Mr Koczkar.

"And that uncertainty continues every day as they get back into school, uni and work, and even more so now with the war in Ukraine and, closer to home, the floods in New South Wales and Queensland."

The Medibank boss says parents believe young people are coping better than they really are.

New research shows more than one-in-two 16-to-24-year-olds surveyed felt depressed or down in the last year but that 70 per cent of parents were unaware they felt that way.

It also found that two-in-three young people felt unmotivated in the last year and only 40 per cent of parents believed their children felt like this.

"How did we become so out of touch with how our kids are feeling?" asks Mr Koczkar.

"Is it because we ourselves have been trying to navigate a world of uncertainty, taking it day by day? Or because many parents have been barely keeping their heads above water trying to do a full-time job while homeschooling in lockdown?

"As a parent and as CEO of a health company that looks after the health and wellbeing needs of 3.7 million Australians, I’m worried, and you should be too.

"Youth mental health is the silent pandemic."

The company says the number of 10-to-29-year-olds being admitted to hospital for mental health related treatment rose almost 10 per cent last year.

"Mental health issues don’t discriminate and can impact anyone. That’s why talking about the importance of mental health and wellbeing is so important at home, at work and at school.

"But there is hope for our kids," says Mr Koczkar.

More than 90 per cent of young people surveyed are actively planning on improving their mental and physical health. It found one in ten are for the first time addressing their mental health and wellbeing.

"Let’s remember to check in with our kids. Ask them if they are okay. Listen to their worries and concerns. Make sure they feel safe to share what’s actually going on for them.

"Our kids are incredible, but they have been struggling – so let’s not forget about them."