The younger generation are "despairing and worn out" as they struggle with financial and work problems, a study shows.
Research among 4,000 people aged between 18 and 30 revealed that women are worst affected as they are particularly hit by workplace discrimination.
The Young Women's Trust said young people are having to "suspend" adulthood, often moving back in with their parents because of low pay.
Huge numbers say they are worn out, lack self confidence and are worried about the future.
The charity called on the Government to appoint a minister for young people, extend the national living wage to younger workers, and do more to help young women cope with work.
Dr Carole Easton, chief executive of the Young Women's Trust, said: "At a time of life traditionally characterised by youthful confidence and optimism, it is distressing that so many young people, especially young women, are struggling to make ends meet, and are increasingly worn down and worried about the future.
"We're talking about a generation of young people in crisis, and while life is hard for many young people, our survey shows it's likely to be considerably tougher if you are a young woman.
"It's not in any of our interests to write off an entire generation. Much more needs to be done to improve young people's prospects, including through creating a minister for young people, extending the national living wage to under 25s, delivering on Government commitments to improve housing options for young people and tackling workplace discrimination.
"Our findings also show that there needs to be a particular focus on better understanding the needs of young women who are at real risk of being left behind."