Trust issues: 16-18 year olds can now access retailTRUST support
GUEST POST: Chris Brook-Carter, CEO, retailTRUST.
When we talk about the impact Covid has had on our nation, in my opinion, one segment of the population is often overlooked, and that’s young adults. School and college closures will undoubtedly have a hugely detrimental effect on our children’s education in the short to medium term. And students and parents have been rightly vocal about the fiasco that’s playing out at universities all over the country.
But it’s easy to forget that many thousands of young people also work, and much of them are employed in retail. Across the entire sector of wholesale and retail trade, 22% of workers are aged 16-24 (ONS). Retail accounted for approximately 2.9m jobs in 2019, which means 638,000 fall into this category.
So, as well as educational, development, self-esteem worries and the general distress caused by lockdown and the pandemic, young people are also being hit hard by pressure at work. According to ONS data, during lockdown, young people (16-24) were more likely to be away from paid work than other age groups. Of all young people in employment, 9.9% were on zero-hours contracts in the period April to June 2020. In addition, 59% of 16–17-year-olds have been put on furlough, compared to 47% of young people generally and 44% of 18–24-year-olds.
All of this stress is having a huge impact on the mental health of our young people. The Health Foundation reported that 43.3% of 18–24-year-olds felt unhappy or depressed in April 2020 compared to 27.5% in 2017/2018. According to research by Mental Health Foundation and Swansea University in January this year, 27% of teenagers said they had felt ‘nervous, anxious or on edge’ on most or nearly all the days of the previous fortnight. And research from Workplace Insight in 2019 indicated that 75% of young workers face mental health challenges including suicidal ideation.
At retailTRUST, we received a 235 per cent increase in requests for support from young workers (under 20) last year, when we also saw a 48 per cent rise in calls. What’s more interesting, however, and significantly more disturbing is how their requests differ from those we are getting from older workers. Self-harm is number 10 on the list for young workers, compared to 30 for all ages, and suicidal ideation is 15 for young workers compared to 24 for all ages. Anxiety is top of the list and depression number three.
At retailTRUST our mission is to create health, happiness and hope for everyone working in retail, so I’m really happy to announce that we are now able to extend the assistance we provide to employees aged 16-18, as well as all adults working in retail. This means we can offer vital services to support the mental health and wellbeing of young people, which is currently and unsurprisingly, in a very fragile state.
Employees wishing to access support can now contact the free and confidential retaiLTRUST helpline on 0808 801 0808 for full access to our wellbeing services.
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