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What do young people need in order to feel well?

Marta Díez, Águeda Parra, Inmaculada Sánchez-Queija, Mari Carmen García Mendoza, Virginia Paloma y Carmen Paniagua, Universidad de Sevilla; Rocío de la Fuente, Escuela Universitaria de Osuna
Projecte selected in the call for research on the social reality of young people (FS22-1)

In this study, levels of well-being and psychological ill-being among young people in Spain aged between 16 and 29 years are explored. Psychological ill-being is measured through levels of depression, anxiety, and stress; well-being, through the level of flourishing (a combination of feeling well and functioning effectively), optimism (tendency to see and judge the future positively) and perceived competence (level of capability that the individual considers they possess in various spheres). Furthermore, also analysed are the needs that today’s young people identify for improving their well-being and how they think society can contribute towards it. The data reveal that the level of flourishing depends on the age and the economic situation in which these young people find themselves; that the feeling of perceived competence in different spheres depends largely on gender, and that females present higher levels of psychological ill-being than males. Moreover, young people are more optimistic when they think about their personal future than when they think about that of their generation. Finally, the main needs identified by young people to feel well are their mental health, their economic situation, and social relations. To achieve an improvement in their well-being, young people are asking for a society with more social values, employment, and a stable economy that responds to their real possibilities.
Key points
  • 1
       People aged 25 to 29 years present higher levels of flourishing than those aged 16 to 24 years. Similarly, those who find themselves in a favourable economic situation feel better and more effective than their peers in more vulnerable situations.
  • 2
       Young people present a moderate level of optimism and are less optimistic when they think about the future of their generation than when they think about their own future, with one point of difference – on a scale of 0 to 10 – between the two types of optimism. Furthermore, males are more optimistic than females about their own future.
  • 3
       Females feel more competent than males in partner relationships, while males feel more competent in the professional sphere, in physical appearance and in sports.
  • 4
       A high percentage of young people present serious levels of depression (22.2%), anxiety (44.1%) and stress (22.1%), these being higher among females than among males. However, with age, levels of female ill-being decrease, while those of males increase.
  • 5
       The main needs identified by young people to feel well include: mental health, economic situation, and social relations. They ask society for more social values, employment, and a stable economy that responds to the possibilities of citizens, although 28.9% believe that society cannot do anything to improve their well-being.
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