Improving social and economic participation for young people experiencing depression and anxiety

Author: Jeremy Davidson-Tear

Davidson-Tear, Jeremy, 2016 Improving social and economic participation for young people experiencing depression and anxiety, Flinders University, School of Social and Policy Studies

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This research focusses on the contemporary Australian social environment and younger people of working age (16-24 years). The research investigates the high prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders and the relationship between these mental health disorders, long-term unemployment and social exclusion. The issue of social exclusion is seen as having significant implications for current and future economic and social development. Demographic trends indicate a steady increase in the proportion of people retiring and relatively fewer people of working age. Any impediments to participation in education and employment by young people therefore represent a potentially significant loss to the productive output of the nation, as well as entrenching disadvantage for individuals and communities.

Key areas of research include current policies and provisions for income and participation support and how these could be better integrated with clinical mental health and social support services. The focus is on the ‘hidden’ population of young Australians who are unemployed, receiving minimal or no income support, not in education and training, or in casual and/or insecure work.

The research is topical, as policies over the past two decades have tended to increase restrictions and conditions on younger peoples’ access to income support, education and training. The most recent (2015) Federal Budget has continued this trend, with proposals to increase the age for access to unemployment benefits and strict preclusions and obligations for receiving such support for individuals under 30 years of age.

The research examines existing knowledge about the association between unemployment and poorer mental health. It investigates the proposition that unemployment and lack of participation in work or education, particularly when associated with mental health disorders, is likely to result in long-term social exclusion and disadvantage. The research incorporates quantitative data about the population and analyses how the problems of mental health disorders and unemployment are represented, with suggestions for further research and policy development.

Keywords: Young Australians, unemployment, mental health, anxiety, depression, income support, policy, social inclusion

Subject: Social Work thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2016
School: School of Social and Policy Studies
Supervisor: Dr Keith Miller