Alex Perry, CEO of Bupa Insurance, discusses the mental health challenges facing young people during the pandemic
As all parts of the UK enters a third lockdown, it is confronting to see the findings from a new Bupa mental health study; Teen Minds: Living Through a Pandemic and Beyond.
The research shows that three in four young people have experienced symptoms of poor mental health as a result of the pandemic over the last ten months – many for the first time. These issues have manifested as physical health issues for potentially 3.9 million teenagers, with many feeling close to breaking point.
As a father of teenagers myself, it’s really worrying to hear that young people’s mental and physical health has deteriorated so much over this period. I know I won’t be alone in wanting to understand more on how they are feeling and what I can do to help.
The study reveals that the impact on academic achievement (73%) and job prospects (70%) after the pandemic are weighing on young people’s minds, particularly among 16-17 year olds – leading to a majority of teens (57%) not feeling optimistic about their future. Over half of teens (55%) feel their life is in ‘limbo’, while three in 10 (30%) feel the pandemic means they’re missing out on life. These are all completely understandable concerns for a generation whose future is being shaped by the circumstances we find ourselves in now, particularly as we know the impact of the pandemic is likely to be felt for years to come.
At Bupa, we’re encouraging parents to know the warning signs and regularly check in with their children to see how they’re coping. Our new Teen Minds: Living Through a Pandemic and Beyond campaign includes a new teen mental health hub available to anyone with advice to help families talk about these issues, and a video featuring some famous faces talking first-hand about their experiences of talking to young people about what’s on their mind.
We know from both our research and speaking to our customers that parents find conversations with their teens about mental health and how they are feeling challenging. So we’ve also created a guide to help open conversations about their teenager’s mental wellbeing. It’s filled with health expert commentary, guidance and useful tips for talking to young people and helping them to share their worries.
As the global pandemic impacts more and more on mental health, at Bupa we are here to support our customers and their families. We have been investing in our mental health services for our UK health insurance customers, including cover for more conditions, ongoing support for longer term conditions and support for families who are worried about their child’s mental wellbeing through our Family Mental HealthLine. Wherever and however we can, we’re here to help support our young people through this time and into a brighter future.