A new online survey conducted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) suggests young Australian adults are less carefree than often supposed, with those aged 18-25 reporting higher levels of stress and lower levels of wellbeing than any other age group.
The survey of over 1500 people, released to mark the beginning of National Psychology Week, also found a staggering 1 in 8 people reported severe stress, with 30% of all those surveyed identifying the workplace as the cause of their stress.
The report – Stress and Wellbeing in Australia in 2011: A state of the nation survey – suggests the challenge of finding and keeping work may be contributing to the high levels of stress in younger Australians, with those under 25 reporting the lowest levels of job satisfaction and work-life balance.
Professor Lyn Littlefield, Executive Director of the APS, said: ‘Stress is something we all experience from time to time. What’s concerning here is the level of stress we’re seeing, particularly in young Australians, as they navigate the transition to adulthood, and with that relationships, work and education.’
Suggesting that concerns over the economy are affecting Australian’s levels of stress, the report found more than half (52%) of those surveyed reported financial issues as the main driver for stress, ahead of health issues and family problems.
And in a worrying trend, 40% of Australians are reporting the use of alcohol in an effort to manage their stress, although less than half of those who use alcohol (19%) report it to be effective in managing stress. The same applies for using food to soothe stress, with 64% turning to food but only 25% finding it effective.
Professor Littlefield said: ‘The research shows that people eat or use alcohol as a way of easing the symptoms of stress, but this is ineffective.’
When it comes to reaching out for help, 15% of people sought help from a mental health professional to manage their stress while 25% of those surveyed relied on help from a family member or friend.
Professor Littlefield said: ‘Research shows that excessive stress can affect your work, home life, relationships and physical health. If your stress levels are stopping you leading a happy and healthy lifestyle, you can take action. Small adjustments to the way you think or behave can often have a big impact. If needed, you can seek help from an expert psychologist, who can help you manage the effect of stress on you and your family’
For more information or interviews, contact Karen Coghlan on 0435 896 444, Judith Heywood on 03 8662 3301 or Rebecca Matthews on 03 8662 3358.
The full results of the survey are available on the Australian Psychological Society website. Professor Lyn Littlefield and a number of other psychologists are available for interview throughout National Psychology Week.
A free guide to understanding and managing stress is available on the APS website.
The APS also provides a free referral service for the general public, GPs and other health professionals who are seeking the advice and assistance of a psychologist, at www.findapsychologist.org.au or at the toll-free number 1800 333 497.
During National Psychology Week, APS psychologists around Australia host a series of events and activities in their local communities to highlight psychology – the science of human behavior – and how psychology can help people lead happier, healthier lives.
Media release amended: 18 November 2011