Research by VicHealth and the Swinburne University of Technology shows more than half (57%) of young people feel like they sometimes or always have no one to turn to. This results in one in two young adults feeling lonely sometimes, or always. At risk are our HSC students and early career alumni aged 18–25, currently across Australia close to four million students are sitting the HSC or equivalent. It is a time of extreme social, emotional and mental pressure and a time when they are for the first time ‘in transition’. Highschool circles, activities and communities dissipate as students embark on further education, employment and moving out of home. As disconnect becomes the ‘norm’, social media tends to conceal the reality that others are going through the same emotions and can decrease an individual’s self-esteem as a result. The worrying outcome is that loneliness can rapidly lead to depression and anxiety.
As a mum with a teenager doing the HSC, I can totally relate — comments around isolation and feeling alone is continual. All the social posts are about gangs leaving and celebrating .. but so often the questions around “ why was I not included?” or “how come they don’t seem stressed?”.
What can be done to reverse the impact of leaving behind friendship and social networks that develop? School ending is a big end of life chapter.
Physical interactions are crucial, and it is important to have someone that you see regularly and can share your everyday experiences with, deepening relationships with people you know, as well as seeking external guidance from mentorship programs. Educate Plus, the network of advancement professionals from 1800 private Australian schools and universities, are leading the way with the implementation of their mentorship programs and platform. Other schools are also seeing the incredible value of a connection platform for schools to engage with school alumni as they leave school and head into a vocation. St Joseph’s College Sydney have signed up a Mentorship program to allow Year 12 boys to find a mentor from the school alumni and school community, as they leave school.
We need to battle the concerning statistics around loneliness for young people and ensure each individual has a mentor to support them in the months and years following this pivotal exam period.
Here is the link to my radio interview : https://mitchellsfrontpage.com/combating-teenage-isolation-and-loneliness/