Double crisis mode

By Sarah RaparoliLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Growing up in the midst of pandemic, war and inflation. How are young people doing in the midst of numerous crises and what does research say? The Lëtzebuerger Journal asked.

"Despite a recovery since Corona, satisfaction has worsened since 2018, especially among young people, " was the conclusion of a study with new figures from the national statistics office Statec. Young people are not doing well, confirm researchers Dr Carolina Catunda and Dr Caroline Residori from the University of Luxembourg. Both conduct child and youth research and have been involved in groundbreaking studies – both HBSC (Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children) surveys and the Youth Survey – and also conduct research in the areas of substance use and the impact of the Corona pandemic on children and young people.

Looking at the figures collected, how are young people faring? "When we look at the population as a whole, we see that people are doing quite well, " explains Carolina Catunda. "However, when we start looking at certain groups and comparing them to others, for example girls versus boys, or families with more or less financial resources, the picture changes." In general, the gap between boys and girls has widened in recent years. For example, the report Health of Pupils in Luxembourg, part of the HSBC surveys conducted every four years, states that "overall, 36 per cent of pupils rate their health as excellent, while 49 per cent rate it as good (both in 2022, ed.). The vast majority of students also report being satisfied with life, with girls and students from low wealth families reporting lower life satisfaction than boys and students from high wealth families respectively. From 2006 to 2022, life satisfaction has remained stable at a high level." A decline was only observed among girls between 2018 and 2022.

The happiest stage of life

Dr Caroline Residori adds to her colleague's statements: "Our studies show that young people were worse off in 2020, during the pandemic." A WHO study that Dr Residori was involved in shows that between 15 and 30 per cent of young people experienced negative effects in various areas of their lives – mental health, physical activity, school performance were most affected. Even after the pandemic in 2022, eight per cent of young people in Luxembourg continue to report negative impacts in most areas of their lives. According to them, young people would acknowledge that life has become more complex and many would also cope on an emotional level. "The majority say that the pandemic had either no impact or a rather positive impact, " she says. That in itself is a good sign that the majority of young people do not see the pandemic as a major disaster. "For children and young people who are in the middle of their development, it should be the happiest and healthiest time of their lives. Yet around 30 per cent say they feel negative consequences on their mental health. That is a very worrying percentage. We see very vulnerable young people suffering from mental health symptoms at a much higher rate than before the pandemic, " says Dr Residori. A 2018 HSBC survey report said multiple psychosomatic complaints affected 49 per cent of girls and 31 per cent of boys, up from 62 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively, in 2022. "For girls, the older they are, the more common these complaints are."

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