Gen Z + Mental Health: What Is Impacting Our Youth and Young Adults Today?

Gen Z + Mental Health

Generation Z, or Gen Z, is the cohort of individuals born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s. This generation has grown up in an era marked by technological advances and changes in social norms. They have also faced unique challenges that have impacted their mental health.

Nearly two years after the COVID-19 pandemic, Gen Z adults have reported higher rates of anxiety, depression and distress than any other age group. Due to the pandemic, many young people have had to adapt to virtual learning and socializing, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnection from their peers. Even before the pandemic, social isolation was a growing concern among young people, with studies showing that rates of loneliness and social isolation have been increasing over the past decade.

The pervasive use of technology is another factor that can impact Gen Z’s mental health. While technology has many benefits, such as connecting people and providing access to information, excessive use can have negative consequences. Social media use, for example, has been linked to higher levels of anxiety, depression and lower self-esteem in young people.

Another major factor that affects Gen Z’s mental health is the pressure for achievement and success. With the rise of social media, young people are constantly exposed to images of their peers achieving in various fields. This creates a sense of competition and pressure to excel, which can lead to stress and anxiety.

In a study done in 2019-2020, Gen Z reported having the least positive outlook, including lower levels of social and emotional well-being when compared to older generations. One in four Gen Z respondents reported feeling more emotionally distressed, almost double that of millennial and Generation X respondents and triple that of baby boomers.

Also, in the study, Gen Z respondents were more likely to report having been diagnosed with a behavioral health condition and were two to three times more likely to report thinking about, planning or attempting suicide. However, Gen Z members are less likely to seek help for these conditions compared to other generations. The factors that account for Gen Z’s lack of seeking help include disengagement from health care, perceived cost of health care, developmental stage and stigma associated with mental or substance use disorders.

Gen Z faces a unique set of challenges that can impact mental health. While there is no easy solution, acknowledging and addressing these challenges can help support the well-being of this generation. This includes providing resources for mental health support, promoting healthy social connections and working toward systemic change.

If you, or a Gen Z member you know, are/is experiencing a mental health concern, UofL Health – Peace Hospital can provide hope and healing with inpatient or outpatient services. You can call Peace Hospital at 502-451-3330 or call the 24-hour helpline in a crisis at 502-451-3333 or 800-451-3637.

Image of post author
Article by:

Bret Austin, LPCC, LPAT

Bret Austin, LPCC-S, LPAT, is the interim director of behavioral health at UofL Health – Peace Hospital. She has been working in the mental and behavioral health field for 14 years as an art therapist and professional counselor, as well as managing the Crossroads program, a child and adolescent partial hospitalization program at Peace Hospital. She is passionate about helping others to understand and overcome their struggles.

All posts by Bret Austin, LPCC, LPAT
Calendar icon that indicates scheduling an appointment
Schedule an