16.10.19

The Health Foundation calls for government overhaul for a healthy society

The Health Foundation has today (Oct 16) urged government to consider policy changes to housing, transport and education after new report shows a risk to the future of young people.

The report, A heathy foundation for the future, calls for a whole government approach to protect the future health of young people. Included in the recommendations is the need for discounted and free public transport for UK students.

A report commissioned for the Department for Transport suggests that young people today are generally travelling less locally, taking around 25% fewer trips than 20 years ago and spending more time at home, impacting on their health and social life.

The two-year research inquiry has involved several expert organisations across seven key policy areas, to carry out a deep dive into the needs of 12-24-year-olds.

Another concern was the impact of the current school testing system, and the potential impact it might have on young people’s mental health.

This is supported by a National Education Union report that found 82% of teachers say the focus on exams is disproportionate to the focus on the overall wellbeing of their students and that 80% of young people believe exam pressure has impacted on their mental health.

Evidence in the report shows that young people find it harder to access certain things that are paramount to a healthy future. These include but are not limited to, secure and rewarding work, a place to call home and strong, supportive relationships with family, friends and the community.

The lack of these things is putting the UK’s 12-24-year-olds in jeopardy of developing poor physical and mental health later in life.

The Health Foundation suggests putting young people’s needs at the heart of government policy making to give them the best possible start in life.

The Health Foundation Young people's inquiry - Photo by Andrew Saunders (7)

Jo Bibby, Director of Health at the Health Foundation, commented:

“Most people wouldn’t automatically think that housing, transport and education policies have much to do with people’s health. However, our inquiry has shown that getting these – and other areas of government policy – right for young people sets them on course for a healthy future. This is why we are recommending changes to ensure young people have somewhere to call home, rewarding work and supportive relationships with friends, families and communities.” 

“It is apparent that the arbitrary division of responsibilities between different sectors is letting young people down and jeopardising their long-term health. We must address these divisions and ensure there is a whole government approach to drive us towards a healthy future.”

Photo of individuals involved in the inquiry, Credit: Andrew Saunders 

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