Young people in the Newcastle and Hunter region are feeling the cost of living crisis more than their counterparts across the state, with a survey revealing it's the number one issue for those aged 15 to 19. Mission Australia surveyed than 4500 young people in NSW for its annual Youth Survey. Young people were asked to list the nation's three most important issues. Across the state, the environment (42 per cent) took out the top spot, followed by mental health and equity and discrimination. But in the Newcastle region, the economy and financial matters were front of mind, with 35 per cent of young people ranking it as their biggest concern. The environment (33 per cent) and mental health (30 per cent) came in second and third. Mental health issues were a recurring theme for local youth. About one-third said they were "extremely concerned" or "very concerned" about coping with stress and more than a quarter were extremely worried about their body image. One-in-five felt lonely most or all of the time and one-in-four were classified as having high psychological distress Mission Australia NSW director Nada Nasser said young people faced a range of pressures in their everyday lives and the challenges were exacerbated when young people weren't able to access support in their communities. "Young people need our understanding and support as they go through what can be a challenging time in their lives," Ms Nasser said. "Providing them with affordable and accessible mental healthcare can help set them up for future success." Respondents were also asked an unprompted open-ended question about the biggest personal challenge they have faced or experienced in the last year. The most common personal challenges cited by young locals were school related (44 per cent), other challenges (24 per cent) and interpersonal relationships (22 per cent). About one-in-five said they were treated unfairly or discriminated against in the last year, with the top three reasons given being physical appearance (46 per cent), mental health (39 per cent) and personal views (24 per cent). It wasn't all doom and gloom - almost 60 per cent of Newcastle and Hunter respondents were proud to be a part of their community, while 63 per cent agreed or strongly agreed their community had what they needed to have a "positive and thriving future".