Mental health is the number one issue for young people in Australia, according to the latest Mission Australia Youth Survey.

With the survey now in its 16th year, the issue has topped concerns for the first time with around a third of the 24,000 young people polled - more than double the proportion that did in 2015 - identifying it as a national concern.

James Toomey, Mission Australia's CEO, said it was "significant" that young people were becoming more aware of the impacts of mental illness.

"However, the fact that mental health has climbed to become the top national concern for young people reinforces that much more needs to be done. Young people need a coordinated, comprehensive and cohesive national response to ensure they can access the right mental health supports when they need them."

He said that it makes sense to invest in mental health programs in schools, as well as community-based mental health services, and to ensure services are youth friendly.

“This report tells us that many young people facing challenges reach out to friends and family for support. I can tell you from experience that family members and friends need to know how to navigate the bewildering variety of services and information sources that are available, and be provided with targeted information about ‘mental health first aid’ and other practical supports that exist."

The report also identified mental health as a key barrier to young people achieving their study or work goals after school with 13.2 per cent indicating that was the case. Overall, slightly more than half of those surveyed indicated there would be barriers to achieving their study or work goals after school, with 22 per cent nominating academic ability as the barrier and 14.2 per cent nominating financial difficulty. 

Meanwhile, alcohol and drugs, and equity and discrimination were also identified as key issues among those surveyed with young people in regional areas identifying alcohol and drugs as a top issue at higher rates than young people in cities.

Overall, four in ten of those surveyed indicated a high confidence in their ability to achieve their work or study goals, includiing 45.4 per cent of males and 36.6 per cent of females.

The survey involved 24,055 young people aged between 15 and 19-years-old, 95 per cent of which completed it online. Mission Australia is a non-denominational Christian charity.