Young men's mental health in crisis

22 July 2013

The University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Research Institute has joined with the Young and Well CRC, Movember and beyondblue to declare it is 'game on' for tackling the mental health and wellbeing of young men aged 16 to 25, after their national survey revealed almost 20 percent of young men do not think their life is worth living.

The first Young and Well National Survey, a scientific study of young men from across Australia, identified alarming statistics that suggest our current mental health system is failing young men, including:

  • nearly one in five young men in the past 12 months have felt that life is hardly worth living
  • nearly one in 10 young men having thought about taking their own life
  • unemployment and moderate to very high levels of psychological distress predicting suicidal thoughts and behaviour
  • 42 percent of young men experiencing psychological distress.

On the positive side, the research also identifies new methods of engagement with young men via technology that matches their current usage and behaviour online, offering new hope for improving their mental health and wellbeing.

Young men with 'moderate' to 'very high' levels of psychological distress were more likely to:

  • talk about problems on the internet, with 66 percent finding it helpful
  • use the internet to find information for a mental health, alcohol or other substance abuse problem (48 percent)
  • 95 percent were 'somewhat' to 'very satisfied' with the information they received online
  • young men who reported higher levels of psychological distress were more likely to access health information, listen to (or download/upload) music and play games with others on the internet.

Young and Well CRC CEO, Associate Professor Jane Burns said the findings offered an unprecedented opportunity to tailor mental health and wellbeing programs to engage young men where they are active, and importantly, at the right time.

"Unfortunately, young men do not seek help and many young men are not using services until they reach crisis point," she said.

"Technology presents our best prospect yet to work directly with young men to create new ways of engagement, new models of care, and greater empowerment for young men in their management of stress and life pressure.

"For the last 20 years we have known our young men are not faring well: suicide, motor vehicle accidents and violence are the major killers of young men in Australia. Good mental health and wellbeing are critical to their prevention and lay the foundation for health and happiness," Associate Professor Burns said.

The Young and Well CRC is providing this research to government, service providers, schools and employers of young men to increase awareness of the current state of young men's mental health in Australia, with the aim of avoiding escalation of mental health issues to crisis point where young men may choose to end their life.

About the report: The first Young and Well National Survey was designed, analysed and authored by the Young and Well CRC and the Brain and Mind Research Institute. It was co-authored by staff from ConNetica and the Black Dog Institute. The report of the survey findings is titled 'Game On: Exploring the Impact of Technologies on Young Men's Mental Health and Wellbeing'.

Follow University of Sydney Media on Twitter

Media enquiries: Rachel Gleeson, 02 9351 4630, 0481 004 782,