Stress, pressure to perform, overtaxing – for roughly half of Swiss young people (46 percent) this is their everyday life. This is the conclusion reached by the fourth wave of the Juvenir survey, the Jacobs Foundation’s representative study of Swiss youth. According to the study, stress comes from schools, universities and training programs rather than from young people’s private lives, and girls are particularly affected. Roughly 56 percent of girls report feeling stressed often or very often. By comparison, this holds true for 37 percent of boys.
The normal everyday madness
Stress cubed in schools, universities and vocational training: 75 percent of female university students and 72 percent of girls in school experience stress often or very often, and the respective percentages for their male counterparts are 57 and 49. Among apprentices, 60 percent of girls and 39 of boys report feeling stressed. However, Swiss young people are largely free of stress in their leisure time. Only 17 percent report that sports are often or very often a source of stress; hobbies are identified as a stress factor by only 14 percent, and the presence in social media by just 5 percent.
A desire to succeed, self-imposed pressure to perform well, anxiety about the future
Swiss youth attach highest priority to success in school, vocational training and university studies. Success in these areas is important to over 90 percent of respondents – and more than half (53 percent) say that it is very important. However, success has a price: Nearly half of stressed young people (46 percent) put pressure on themselves to do well on every task they undertake. Another 40 percent report that self-imposed pressure is responsible for at least some of their stress. Behind such pressure lies an enormous amount of anxiety; overall, 44 percent of young people report feeling anxious about their professional future.
“The results of the fourth wave of the Juvenir study have serious implications for Swiss society,” says Sandro Giuliani, Managing Director of the Jacobs Foundation. “The desire of Swiss youth to perform at a high level will serve Switzerland’s economic and social systems well in meeting the future challenges of international competition. On the other hand, however, excessive stress may well have negative consequences for our economy and our society. In this context, a broad societal dialogue is needed, as well as new solutions.”
Burden on the psyche
When individuals experience stress and pressure on a regular basis, this has psychological consequences. Nearly 80 percent of the girls and over 60 percent of the boys who report experiencing stress often or very often doubt themselves and their ability to meet the pressures they face. And 69 percent of the girls and 49 percent of the boys also report experiencing dejection and sadness.
Little time for leisure and social engagement
When the pressure is high, time is short: The stress factor that Swiss youth mention most frequently (89 percent of respondents) is a lack of time. This has consequences for an individual’s leisure time and activities. According to more than half of the respondents, young people today no longer have enough time for social engagement or participation in clubs and other organizations (51 percent), or for hobbies and spending time with friends (52 percent).
The Juvenir studies
Juvenir is a series of representative studies conducted by the Jacobs Foundation and focusing on current issues of concern to young people in Switzerland. What sets these studies apart: The Juvenir studies are the only Swiss surveys that talk with, and not just about, young people, and that use social media to do so. The fourth Juvenir study, entitled “Too much pressure, too much stress! How young people in Switzerland handle stress and pressure,” surveyed 1,538 adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 21 in Switzerland’s three major language regions. The complete study as well as an abbreviated version are available in printed form from the Jacobs Foundation. Both can also be downloaded in German and French from the website www.jacobsfoundation.org/juvenir