A new study is taking a closer look at the mental health of Gen Z. The emotional struggles of Gen Zers—people born between 1997 and 2012—have been well documented in recent years. Still, questions remain about what makes this group so different from previous generations.
According to a new study from Gallup and the Walton Family Foundation (WFF), which surveyed more than 3,000 people in the age group, Gen Zers have crushing worries. They’re concerned about earning a solid paycheck, gun violence, and being prepared for the future—financially, and otherwise. While 76% of the generation feel they have a lot to look forward to, less than half (44%) feel they are well-prepared for the future. That could be why less than half of Gen Z is willing to give their mental health an “excellent” rating—only 15% of them do.
“Less than half (47%) of Gen Z Americans are thriving in their lives—among the lowest across all generations in the U.S. today and a much lower rate than millennials at the same age,” said the report from Gallup-WFF.
Past research into Gen Z’s mental health has been jarring, too. A 2018 survey from the American Psychological Association showed that more people from that age group ranked their mental health as fair or poor than previous generations, and pointed to the state of the nation as the most significant stressor. A 2022 study logged 70% of Gen Zers saying their mental health needs the most attention or improvement, when compared with other areas of well-being. However, members of the generation—who largely grew up with more discourse around mental health—are also more inclined to report such struggles.
Quite simply, Gen Z might be the first age group with the language to identify issues like anxiety and depression more broadly.
Still, while they’re definitely talking more about mental health challenges, the stressors do seem to be coming from all angles. That’s probably why no one has really been able to identify exactly what is causing so much anxiety for Gen Z: It’s actually everywhere. And this generation is uniquely plugged in. As the first generation to have grown up with iPhones, they spend upwards of four hours a day on social media, which means they literally have their fingers on the pulse of the latest info.
Studies consistently show social media dragging down this generation’s spirits, but the state of the world isn’t improving too notably, either. Gun violence, a major cause of stress for 12- to 26-year-olds, is only getting worse, as is inflation, crushing debt (which impacts major life choices), and a host of other issues that seem pointed straight at Gen Z.
Perhaps they’re just really tuned in.
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