Uncertain times and the impact on young people


As I’m writing up notes from the many research reports, articles and insights papers on young people, I’ve been struck by a key theme that has dramatically shaped their outlook over the past year. Uncertainty.

Change was something that came through in the Engaging Youth report in 2018-2019 but with Brexit actually happening in 2020, further widespread reports on the impact of global warming, from the bush fires in Australia to the flooding in the UK, and now the biggest question mark over us of Coronovirus, what impact will this have on young people’s wellbeing this year?

Several reports already point to a decrease in happiness with life as a whole, increased feelings of anxiety and pressure at school and in their wider lives.

The biggest inequality when it comes to wellbeing in the UK however is socioeconomic – i.e. those children and young people from lower socioeconomic groups are experiencing greater levels of unhappiness and poorer emotional wellbeing.

This is perhaps one of the biggest worries over the forthcoming weeks and months in terms of the impact of school closures, short-term redundancies and reliance on the government. We see in several parts of the UK, the level of concern over the summer holiday period for children from poorer families being fed enough – as free school meals are not available. The added pressures of the coming weeks therefore could have a broader knock-on effect for some of the UK’s most vulnerable young people.

As we all grapple with our localised concerns, be they for family, friends, community or how we continue to deliver work on a remote basis, we should recognise the impact that this uncertainty has on children and young people and what we can do to help.

A few things…..

  • How to speak to children about Coronovirus: Unicef Australia have some great advice
  • How to talk to teens about it: Harvard Medical School give these tips
  • The World Health Organisation released some useful mental health considerations and indeed how we should be talking about the pandemic – this may inform how you shape some of your communications.
  • Interesting read in the Guardian about the importance of combating the ‘infodemic’ just as much as the epidemic in terms of managing the ‘fear’ reporting versus helpful, clear information.

And if you’ve not already read Comms2point0’s blog on crisis communications at this time – do so now, it really is a helpful reminder.

You can download Thread & Fable’s Engaging Youth Report 2019 for free here (2020 report is out soon!)

This post was originally written for Comms2Point0