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Gen Z and Mental Health Issues

gen z

Gendered language in research mentions mental health topics like self-harm and sexual abuse. 

Gen­er­a­tion Z — aka, people born between 1995 and 2010 — are experiencing mental health difficulties, mainly due to grow­ing up in a time of increased stress and anx­i­ety. According to the Pew Research Cen­ter, about 70% of teens across all gen­ders, races, and income lev­els report anx­i­ety and depres­sion being the most sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems among their peers.

What Are Some Statistics About Gen Z Regarding Anxiety and Depression?

The Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion found that only 45% of Gen Zers reported their men­tal health being at a level that is very good or excel­lent. Other generations, by comparison, reported having better mental health, such as Mil­len­ni­als (56%), Gen Xers (51%), and Boomers (70%).

While some might think that Gen­ Z is the most depressed gen­er­a­tion, it is more likely that mem­bers of this group are more open about their mental health than their older peers and are more inclined to seek out coun­sel­ing or ther­a­py. Approximately 37% of zoomers (which is a high­er rate than any of the other pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion) — said they had worked with a men­tal health professional of some kind. 

What Is Contributing to Depression for Gen Z?

Gen Z encounters chron­ic stress from many fac­tors like school shoot­ings, stu­dent debt, not having or having difficulty finding jobs, and more. 

Tech­nol­o­gy may also be a contributing factor. Social media and mental health has been a concern and can create feel­ings of iso­la­tion and lone­li­ness in some young people. In addition, it can portray many negative news stories, FOMO (fear of missing out), and feelings of shame when comparing their lives to others on social media.

An article from Wall Street Journal found that Insta­gram neg­a­tive­ly impacted the men­tal health of teens. In fact, according to the report, it contributes to wors­en­ing body image issues for one in every three teenage girls.

What Are Some Possible Psychological Concerns for Gen Zers?

As previously mentioned, Gen Z faces various forms of stress, leading to psychological concerns like depression and anxiety. Here are some statistics regarding stressors that could be contributing to increased mental health issues among Gen Z:

  • 75% of Gen Z surveyed (300 people ages 15 to 17) said they felt stress about mass school shootings (as cited in the Stress in America survey by the Harris Poll on behalf of APA in 2018.) 
  • Another poll found that almost half of Gen Z respondents were connected online for ten or more hours per day. As a result, they spend less time connecting with other people in real life, which could lead to an increase in feeling isolated. In addition, being too connected could add more pressure and expectations, along with less downtime.
  • According to the APA report, 91% of Gen Z respondents had physical or psychological symptoms due to stress.2 The following were the leading causes of stress: money/work (64%), debt (33%), housing (31%), and hunger (28%). Out of all these, only half of those surveyed reported doing enough to help manage their stressors.
  • Gen Z may be more stressed due to worldwide issues like climate change, political climate, and immigration. Many reported being fearful about the future as a whole. 
  • Gen Z is the first generation that has been exposed to possibly harmful content via social media at a young age, like self-harm videos. 
  • The University College London found in their research that Gen Z was more likely to engage in self-harm, have a poor body image, disturbed sleep, and experience depression.4
  • Gen Z also faces added pressure due to social media and technology, like harassment (sexual or other), bullying, and the need to fit in or conform.

How Is Gen Z Putting a Stop to Mental Health Stigma?

As previously mentioned, Gen Z is more open about talking about mental health issues than any other generation. The APA reported that more than a third of Gen Z had received medical treatment or therapy for their mental health from a qualified professional. 

Even though social media was previously discussed as a potential stressor, it has also helped Gen Z connect with like-minded individuals experiencing similar issues. For example, Gen Z has been known to post memes and funny videos of their mental illness experiences. This content has benefited youth experiencing or figuring out their mental health struggles. Dark, self-defeating humor can be an excellent source of connection for peers who want to find comfort in their shared experiences. 

Did you know that mental health issues are on the rise? For more info, check out our article about it.

Why Is Gen Z Seeking Out Therapy More Than Previous Generations?

A report from the American Psychiatric Association, “Stress in America: Generation Z,” in October 2019, found that:

  • Gen Zers were more likely to have received mental health treatment or attended therapy (37%) than other generations. For example, Millennials (35%), Gen X (26%), Boomers (22%), and the Silent Generation (15%). 
  • In addition, zoomers were more likely to be open about reporting their mental health issues as either fair or poor (27%) compared to Millennials (15%) and Gen X (13%).

The reason there is an increase in using mental health services and reporting mental health as being poor from Gen Z is likely as follows: 

  • Life, in general, has increasingly added a variety of stressors, causing more psychological concerns and more need for mental health services. 
  • There is much more awareness surrounding mental health, so these problems can no longer be ignored and are more recognized.
  • The stigma around accessing mental health services has decreased, leading to Gen Z being better able to identify their issues and seek help. 

In Summary 

Even though Gen Z is struggling with anxiety and depression at such a high rate, they are more likely to be open about their mental health issues and more inclined to seek help.

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