You may hear the terms Millennials, Gen Y, Gen X, and Gen Z thrown around in conversation all the time, but what is Gen Z exactly? Gen Z refers to any individual born between the years 1997 and 2012. When it comes to Gen Z and mental health, they are one of the most prone to experience an array of mental health issues.
According to the American Psychological Association, more than 9 out of every 10 people, or 91% of adults, in the Gen Z category experienced at least one emotional or physical stress-related symptom in 2019. However, with the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, these feelings were amplified even further.
If you’re looking for information on issues relating to Gen Z and mental health, this mental health guide can help. Keep reading below to discover more about better understanding mental health in Gen Z.
What Are Some of the Most Crucial Mental Health Issues Facing Gen Z?
Gen Z stands to face some of the biggest mental health struggles. At 37% reported, Gen Z is the highest percentage generation receiving treatment or therapy for mental health issues. Gen Z even beats out Millennials (1981 to 1996) at 35% compared to Gen X’ers (1965 to 1980) at 26%, Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964) at 22%, and even the Silent Generation (1928 to 1945) at 15%.
But these numbers aren’t for celebration, they are a cause for great concern. As Gen Z and mental health issues increase, Gen Z is still the least likely to seek out help for mental health issues. This could be due to a number of problems such as financial cost concerns or an attached stigma relating to seeking help as a form of weakness.
Let’s examine some of the biggest Gen Z mental health issues here.
Stress happens to all of us now and then. But chronic stress can take its toll on Gen Z and mental health. Caring for an ill child, parent, or spouse may cause stress if someone feels like they have no support of their own.
Other stressors could include the loss of a job and unemployment by the older subset of Gen Z or by their parents for the younger portion of the generation. This can lead to other serious mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
Everyone gets a little sad sometimes or feels let down. Depression is the persistence of feeling sad or hopeless that lasts longer than two weeks and shows a marked change in your level of functionality. Depression can have a multitude of symptoms that differ for everyone to some degree.
Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Feelings of persistent sadness, hopelessness, emptiness
- Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, guilt, pessimism
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Difficult concentrating, making decisions, or remembering
- Thoughts of suicide and death
- Loss of appetite or constant eating
- Lack of energy, feeling constantly fatigued
There are other types of depression like seasonal depression which occurs during a specific time and climate change throughout the year. Situational depression results from experiencing a traumatic event or big life change, like a death in the family. Clinical depression is an ongoing form of depression that does not get better with time.
Suffers of depression may turn to street drugs or even prescription drugs to help them cope. Individuals struggling with gender identity may also experience depression for fear that they won’t be accepted for who they are.
Depression is a very serious condition. It requires prompt diagnosis and treatment. Despite the stigma of depression sufferers being labeled as “attention-seeking”, anyone struggling with depression has a real and severe mental health problem that needs professional help.
Whether it’s a feeling of anxiousness associated with a certain task or a full-blown anxiety disorder, anxiety can be one of the most crippling and prominent mental health conditions today, affecting 71% of Gen Z’ers.
Anxiety can be broken down into several sub-categories such as:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder – constant and severe invasive daily anxiety
- OCD – experiencing obsessive and intrusive thought patterns leading to repetitive and compulsive behavior
- Social Anxiety – irrational fears stemming from social interactions that cause behavior like self-loathing, fear, and anxiousness
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – deep feelings of fear and anxiety usually resulting from the experience of a traumatic event
- Panic Disorder – exhibiting frequent and sudden attacks of fear and dread that can become debilitating
Untreated anxiety can take its toll on the individual experiencing it. They may be too afraid to go out and participate in life for fear of bad things happening. PTSD, which was once thought to only affect combat veterans, can have far-reaching consequences for someone involved in a car crash or physical assault.
While some cases of anxiety occur as a result of inherent trauma, some people may experience anxiety for no discernable reason at all. That is why it is so important to seek the proper diagnosis and treatment right away.
Eating disorders can result from bullying at home or school, by peers or family members constantly commenting on someone’s weight. This, in turn, creates a type of body dysmorphia, or an unhealthy viewpoint of the individual’s body in their mind. They will see themselves with their minor flaws magnified to unreasonable proportions.
Eating disorders can manifest as bulimia, which involves binging and purging food through forced vomiting, or as anorexia, which means the person eats very little or not all to lose weight. These patterns of denying the body food or expelling any calories are dangerous and can result in the person doing so becoming very ill.
Counseling and treatment will help the person break this unhealthy view of themselves and their relationship with food.
What Are the Biggest Causes of Mental Health Problems in Gen Z?
The Gen Z kids grew up in one of the most tumultuous times with many experiencing the tragedy of September 11, 2001 firsthand. So it’s no wonder that Gen Z and mental health go hand in hand.
The Gen Z generation also experienced an increase in gun violence with school shootings and mass shootings at an all-time high. Many fear that their school will be the site of another shooting or they have already been involved in one.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 served to further drive a wedge into mental health. Isolation and fear of contracting the deadly virus impacted the mental well-being of Gen Z especially.
Throw on some inflation along with increased housing market and rent prices. Sprinkle with rising gas, healthcare, and educational costs and you’ve got a recipe for a mental health disaster.
Find Support and Care for Gen Z and Mental Health at Apex Recovery Rehab
With all of the problems plaguing Gen Z and mental health in general, it’s no wonder so many suffer. Understanding mental health is one of the keys to getting the proper treatment so you can live your best life. Your mental health problems may have occurred due to factors beyond your control, but now you can take your life back.
Apex Recovery Rehab in San Diego can provide you with the help you need through our outpatient and residential treatment programs. But you need to take the first step.
Contact us today to speak to one of our intake coordinators.