youngminds2One in 3 long-term unemployed young people have contemplated suicide, while 1 in 4 have self-harmed, a study has found.

The research, by The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index and based on interviews with 2,161 16-to-25-year-olds, found that 40% of jobless young people have faced symptoms of mental illness – including suicidal thoughts, feelings of self-loathing and panic attacks – as a direct result of unemployment.

Long-term unemployed young people are also more than twice as likely as their peers to believe they have nothing to live for and to be prescribed anti-depressants.

The sixth annual Youth Index – which gauges young people’s wellbeing across a range of areas from family life to physical health – highlights that unemployed young people are significantly less likely to ask for help if they are struggling to cope. Three quarters of long-term unemployed young people also said they do not have someone to confide in.

Martina Milburn, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, said: “Unemployment is proven to cause devastating, long-lasting mental health problems among young people. Thousands wake up every day believing that life isn’t worth living, after struggling for years in the dole queue.

“More than 430,000 young people are facing long-term unemployment, and it is these young people that urgently need our help. If we fail to act, there is a real danger that these young people will become hopeless, as well as jobless.”

Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said: “This research proves that unemployment is a public health issue. It is one that must be tackled urgently and it is essential that youth unemployment is added to the public health agenda.

"Unemployed young people are struggling in many aspects of their lives, from their mental health and wellbeing to their relationships and their qualifications and we must act quickly to end this.”