During Mental Health Awareness Week, Helm reflects on the impact that the Covid pandemic has had on our younger generation. 

In March 2023, the Mental Health Foundation conducted an online survey of 6,000 UK adults aged 18+ to look at anxiety in the UK population, its causes, and popular coping mechanisms.

The research found that nearly three-quarters of the population (73%) had felt anxious at least sometimes in the previous two weeks, with one in five people (20%) anxious most or all of the time.  Additionally, the report highlights that some groups of people are more likely to be affected by anxiety than others. Nearly all young people (18 to 24 years) in the research (86%) had felt anxious in the previous two weeks. For over half (58%), this had stopped them undertaking day-to-day activities.

This research is corroborated by anecdotal case studies Helm is hearing from its partner organisations across Tayside and by the day-to-day behaviours our young people are displaying.

During the past 12 months, Helm began to recognise that young people are struggling now more than ever because they are dealing with the impact of the pandemic and being in lockdown during their formative teenage years. Time away from traditional education settings has caused feelings of hopelessness, anxiety and isolation in our young people. Additionally, there is a lack of engagement with many who are struggling to see positive futures and destinations for themselves. 

Helm believes that now is the time to recognise the impact that the pandemic had on our young people or they are at risk of becoming a lost generation. For this reason, Helm has created a new position within its team of Instructors who work on a day-to-day basis with our young people. Last month we were delighted to welcome Sonny Thomason into the role of ‘Early Stage Instructor’. 

Sonny is focused on responding to the needs of young people recovering from the impact of the pandemic and delivers sessions to enable young people to reach a place that they can fully engage with and benefit from Dundee’s employability provision.  Sonny provides support to young people on a 1-1 basis or in small groups, helping them build their team working skills and focusing on their ability to engage with Instructors. It is hoped that this early intervention work will enable our young people to better engage with our employability provision and make the most of their time at Helm.

Helm is happy to welcome Sonny to this new and vital role within the charity. Sadly, our young people have been significantly impacted by the pandemic and now is the time to act to ensure we are providing the best possible support for them. Helm would welcome a national conversation to raise awareness about the impact of Covid on the younger generation and is calling for more to be done to support parents, carers and schools to help our young people.

Ally Calder, Chief Executive at Helm

To find out more about this new service and to refer a young people to Helm, email enquiries@helmtraining.co.uk.