Covid-19: Study shows 72% of youth depressed due to need for more secure jobs
Pretoria - The coronavirus pandemic has left up to 72% of youth battling with depression due to the need for more secure jobs.
This emerged in a survey conducted on 11700 youths in various job sectors during the hard lockdown.
The results of the survey were revealed during a webinar held by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Centre for Social Development in Africa and the Library at the University of Johannesburg.
Dr Gideon Muderiza of the UCT’s Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit said their research found that virtually everyone had been affected by the pandemic and it had, in fact, caused serious threats to people’s physical and mental health.
He said the pandemic had also triggered severe labour market shocks, with evidence suggesting that it had hit vulnerable groups the most.
The situation in the country before the pandemic stood at 7million young people between the ages 18 and 35 living in income poverty.
Muderiza said the income and job losses were concentrated among youths who were already in a vulnerable situation before the lockdown.
Those at the bottom of the wage sector and distribution accounted for 53.9% of income losses and 63.8% of job losses.
The income and job losses were said to be particularly concentrated among black women with low levels of education who were residing in urban informal areas.
“We found that close to half of the participants were no longer paid, and in particular those jobs hardest hit were in the retail, trade, general work and construction sectors.”
Muderiza said they also found that the job losses were driven mainly by job characteristics as opposed to traditional individual characteristics such as race, gender and education.
He said what was most concerning for them were indications that up to 72% of youths were left depressed, particularly the educated women.
“It is important for policymakers and youth organisations to address these mental health problems during and beyond Covid-19, as they could hamper the youth’s chances to reconnection to education or employment.”
Malose Langa, associate professor of psychology in the department of psychology at Wits University, said they also found that policing of young black men during the hard lockdown had taken a turn for the worse.
Langa said this was not surprising as the annual reports by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate indicated an increase in the torture and murder of young black men year on year. He said lockdown restrictions gave even more leeway for police to attack young black men based on racial stereotypes. Langa added: “Being poor made them more vulnerable and the regulations made it easy for them to be targeted by law enforcement officials to an extent that the policing of them was militarised during the lockdown.”