Social Factors that Impact on the Health of Young People

BikiCrumbs: Social Factors…of Young People

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Socio-economic status

  • Young people have very low incomes and still rely on their parents for financial support.
  • With limited income, medical attention and pharmaceutical products aren’t high priorities for young people/
  • Young people from low socio-economic circumstances are more likely to smoke and drink alcohol, participate in drug-taking activities and have a poor diet.
  • Young females from low socio economic backgrounds are more likely to discontinue their schooling with aspirations of marriage and childbearing being a priority.

Employment and education

  • To become financially independent, young people need to be employed.
  • The unemployment rate of young people is consistently higher than all other groups in the population.
  • Many young people undertake training through TAFE, business colleges or government initiated training programs.
  • Significant links between education status and employment. People who have completed higher education are employed in professional positions, whereas people from lower educational backgrounds and did not complete all of their schooling, will end up in less professional occupations (blue collar jobs).
  • Young people who are unemployed tend to smoke more, drink more alcohol, and lack regular physical activity and are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem and lack confidence.


  • Young females are more likely to have eating disorders as they strive to compete with publicized ideal body images.
  • Young males, in validating their masculinity, participate in risk-taking behavior (such as drink driving) and fail to seek support of network members and health professionals when warning signs of reduced health status emerge.
  • Young females are more likely to be involved in psychological teasing and social isolation.
  • Young males are more likely to be involved in physical bullying.


  • The physical health characteristics of young immigrant people quickly resemble that of their peers within Australia.
  • Mental health is cause for concern. These coming from issues relating to torture and trauma experiences might arise in the form of school related problems and depression.
  • Young people with language difficulties might have difficulty accessing health services and be unaware of available services and might distrust health professionals.
  • In some cultures, only female health professionals can be consulted for certain health concerns.


  • Sufficient factor in determining the health status of young people.
  • The health status of these young people in comparison with other Australians is poor. They have a higher infant mortality rate, a higher morbidity rate and a shorter life expectancy.
  • They experience multiple social risk factors: lower levels of education, unemployment, racism, geographical isolation, inadequate housing, and poor water supply. All this leads to reduced health status.
  • Drug use – sniffing petrol and glue is a major cause of death among aboriginal youth in isolated areas.
  • Alcohol related problems – including suicide, motor vehicle accidents, violence and abuse are the major health concerns of young aboriginal people.
  • Incidence of problems differs between rural and urban regions.
  • Family advice sought over professional advice.

Geographical Location

  • Inability to access health care services and information.
  • People from outside metropolitan areas; find it hard to access them let alone places like specialists and treatment services.
  • Culture of young people often prevents them from accessing health professionals.
  • Issues of privacy and confidentiality in close-knit communities.
  • Social pressures such as developing a masculine identity impact on young rural people and males tend to participate in risky behavior associated with motorcycles and farm vehicles.
  • Young rural males, the suicide rate is significantly high.

Sexual orientation

  • Establishing a sexual identity is important for young people
  • Sexual orientation affects the health status of young people.
  • Young homosexual men are more likely to be the focus of vilification, more likely to develop eating disorders and more likely to suffer from stress-related illness – depression and self-harming behavior.
  • A significant proportion of teenage suicide is linked to confusion over sexuality.
  • Lesbians have a higher incidence of alcohol and drug use than their heterosexual peers.

Peer influence

  • Young people tend to listen to their peers rather than their parents.
  • This affects their decision-making when choosing between health-enhancing and health-compromising behavior.
  • In search for their personal identity, they experiment with different ways of behavior.
  • Peer group has powerful effect on individual and decisions they make.
  • Can positively and negatively influence
  • Perception of risk contributes to impact of peer influence.
  • Some young people feel that adults wouldn’t understand what they are experiencing and therefore turn to their friends for help and advice.

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