Youth in Crisis

youth in crisis

Youth mental health is in crisis. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association all declared a “state of emergency” in kids’ mental health, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teach your teen about mental health warning signs and what to do if they see their friends struggling. And have them add the Crisis Text Line to their phone contacts: 741-741.

Disenchanted youth in fast-growing sub-Saharan Africa

Many of Africa’s youth lack the basic skills to enter the job market. In addition, the continent’s education systems do not provide a clear pathway for their further development and a solid basis for future employment.

At several events, youth expressed frustration with the lack of adequate support in their efforts to gain decent jobs. They were also disappointed that despite good policy commitments, they were excluded from the policy making process, and that the few opportunities they had for participation were often based on tokenism.

Youth are a key partner in development and deserve to be included in all facets of governance, including policymaking on issues related to their employment. They are eager to participate and contribute to their countries’ prosperity. It is therefore important to invest in their potential. Today’s youth are the leaders, innovators and workers of tomorrow. They have the potential to unlock productivity, boost economies and eradicate poverty. Yet they are three times more likely to be out of work than adults and trapped in part-time, informal or temporary employment with limited incomes, no benefits, poor working conditions and zero social protection.

Disenchanted youth in the developing world

With poverty levels still high and economic growth sluggish, many young people in developing countries will enter adulthood without the economic means to lead independent lives. The combination of rampant poverty and limited job opportunities is a recipe for disaster. Youth disenchantment with the state of their societies leads some to fill the gap by joining armed factions or street gangs, whereas others are drawn into sexual exploitation.

This is why it is so important for international development programmes to consider rural youth’s opinions, capitalise their assets and connect them with stakeholders in partnerships to bridge spatial and generational gaps. This is a major challenge that requires a significant amount of investment and a multifaceted approach. But more importantly, it demands a recognition of the eagerness, creativity, passion, optimism and courage that young people have to build a better future for themselves and their communities.

Disenchanted youth in transition

Whether they are called “transition-age youth,” “youth aging out” or other terms, this group of young people face many challenges in moving from childhood to adulthood. They have a variety of needs including education, mental health, housing and employment. Youth who are disconnected from these critical supports are more likely to experience poverty, become homeless and engage in criminal justice systems.

They also lack the skills necessary to find work and live independently. The disconnection they experience negatively impacts their communities as well, through a loss of local tax revenue and greater public benefit expenditures.

Providing young adults with targeted, person-centered transition services can help them envision their future and achieve their goals. Minnesota’s Youth in Transition Framework defines quality transition planning, empowering professionals across the state to work toward the same outcomes for youth.

Disenchanted youth in developed countries

Despite some progress, the world’s youth face a daunting economic prospect. Some 75 million young people are unemployed, while even more struggle to find jobs that pay a living wage. In many developed countries, youth unemployment is three times higher than that of the general population.

Productive employment requires highly skilled workers. But skills are nearly impossible to develop if young people lack the foundational education they need.

In a world where poverty is pervasive, young people without jobs or prospects are likely to fill the political vacuum, turning to extremist groups and risking their lives in hopes of finding hope and a better life. They are also a key target of the thriving business of human trafficking, in which women and girls become slaves to men who want them for sexual or other labor.