GEN Z PERSPECTIVES
YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS
Dona Senara explains the personal health problems that impact Generation Z
‘Creative,’ ‘tech savvy’ and ‘independent’ are terms often used to describe Gen Z. Yet recently, Generation Z has been associated with mental health issues as numerous youth are becoming emotionally distressed.
A study conducted by Ogilvy in February last year claims that 70 percent of Gen Zs say their mental health requires improvement or attention. Similarly, research reports from the American Psychological Association (APA) reveal that this generation is more likely to report mental health concerns than its predecessors.
It’s also noted that unlike in the past, today’s society is more open to addressing mental health problems and destigmatising such concerns by sharing experiences.
According to Forbes, mental health issues among Generation Z are not surprising since several youth were at the forefront of many of the world’s tragedies like the economic downturn, COVID-19, school shootings and violence.
Therefore, mental health in today’s world has become a serious concern – particularly since the agony is often more intense than physical pain and frequently leads people to take their lives. This can be verified through data from the WHO, which reports over 700,000 lives lost every year due to suicide, making it the fourth most prevalent cause of death among young people between the ages of 15 and 29.
APA affirms that Gen Zs are willing to seek help for mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety since they don’t usually stigmatise such issues unlike previous generations.
Going beyond this, Gen Zs ranging from middle school students to young professionals are reporting higher rates of anxiety, depression and distress than any other generation.
Stark differences in mental health among generations were identified by McKinsey after it conducted a series of consumer surveys and interviews. Notably, Generation Z reported the least positive outlook compared to older generations including lower levels of emotional and social wellbeing.
Moreover, the survey indicates that Gen Z has more unmet social needs than any other generation. Fifty-eight percent of respondents reported two or more unmet social needs compared to 16 percent by individuals from other generations.
These unmet social needs include income, employment, education, food, housing, transportation, social support and safety. And they are often associated with higher self-reported rates of behavioural health conditions.
Furthermore, Harmony Healthcare IT surveyed over 1,000 Gen Zs between the ages of 18 and 24 on their mental health and concerns for the future. The results show that almost three of four Gen Zs say the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their mental health. And 85 percent are concerned and uncertain about what lies ahead for them.
The survey also identifies eight concerns that Generation Z is preoccupied with regarding the future. These include personal finances, the economy, personal health and mental illness, the environment, politics, the workforce, violence and pandemics.
Reportedly, almost 90 percent of Gen Zs don’t feel that they’ve been set up for success and three-quarters believe they are at a disadvantage compared to other generations. However, Gen Zs are more open to communicating about their mental health issues, increasing the scope of assistance available to help with their problems.
Generation Z represents the world’s next group of leaders, politicians and activists, with many already taking on mature responsibilities as they initiate climate movements, drive companies and lead social justice marches to align more closely with their values.
Consequently, healthcare leaders, employers, state representatives and educators have roles to play in supporting the mental health of Gen Zs, and helping them achieve their full potential. This investment could be regarded as a down payment on the future that will bear social and economic returns for years to come.
“Gen Zs are more open to communicating about their mental health issues, increasing the scope of assistance available to help with their problems”