Latest NEET data sees rise in mental health conditions

Newly released statistics show that more than 1 in 5 young people classified as NEET (not in education, employment or training) have a mental health condition. The figures, from the NEET annual brief published by the Department for Education, show that the proportion stands at 20.8 per cent, up from 18.3 per cent in 2019. This continues a general upward trend that has seen the percentage increase from 7.7 per cent in 2012 to more than a fifth of NEET young people now. The proportion of NEET young people with any kind of health condition has also been on an upward trend, albeit a less dramatic one, and now stands at 23.2 per cent, an increase of just under 4 per cent since 2012. The statistics are based on quarterly Labour Force Survey data, and cover 16-24 year olds in England. 

Overall there was a very slight increase in the proportion of 16-24 year olds classified as NEET, from 11.3 per cent in 2019 to 11.5 per cent in 2020. However within that figure the proportion of 16 to 17 year olds who are NEET decreased from 4.5 per cent to 2.9 per cent. The South East region had the lowest proportion of 16-24 year olds classified as NEET at 7.9 per cent. The NEET annual brief compares figures with the same quarter in previous years, to take account of seasonal variations, but separate figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in early March found there had been the biggest quarterly increase in NEET young people since 2011 (up 39,000 in October to December 2020 compared to July to September 2020). Commenting on those statistics David Freeman, head of labour market and households at the ONS, said that they tallied ‘with other recent data that suggests almost three-fifths of the fall in employees since the onset of the pandemic has been among the under-25s’.

The NEET annual brief and ONS data follow a report from The Prince’s Trust in January this year which found that the coronavirus pandemic had had a ‘devastating’ impact on young people’s mental health. Surveying 2180 people aged 16-25 across the UK, the charity reported that one in four respondents said they felt ‘unable to cope with life’ since the start of the pandemic. This increased to two fifths of those who were NEET. Half of all respondents said their mental health had worsened during the coronavirus crisis. Commenting on that report at the time, Jonathan Townsend, UK chief executive of the Prince’s Trust, said: ‘The pandemic has taken a devastating toll on young people’s mental health and wellbeing. They face a disrupted education, a shrinking jobs market and isolation from their friends and loved ones, and as a result, too many are losing all hope for the future. As ever, it is unemployed young people, and those with few qualifications and little confidence, who have an even more negative experience.’

Full NEET annual brief data:

Prince’s Trust report:

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