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Are the Kids All Right? Gen Z + Mental Health

A generation defined by their creative spirit, willingness to break rules, and openness to redefining social norms, Gen Z is also the most stressed out generation in decades. Clearly responding to the dangers of their time — in a recent APA survey 75% of 15-17-year-olds said that mass shootings are a significant source of stress — rising suicide rates, climate change, deportation, and sexual harassment are major pressure points for these young consumers.

At a time when healthcare is looking to reconnect with its consumer base, the industry has a chance to embrace this empathy opportunity and authentically rebrand around the idea of mental wellness. Medical providers should look to new modes of communication to connect with this digitally fluid generation, from apps to social media. We are already seeing psychologists turning to Instagram to reach Gen Z with popular handles like @the.holistic.psychologist offering daily advice, inspirational quotes, and instructional videos.

When compared with other generations, Gen Z is the least likely to report good or excellent mental health, and yet they are also the most open about mental wellness topics, giving HCPs the opportunity to start conversations around managing stress and anxiety. In 2017, of the nearly 1 in 5 adults in the US who experienced mental illness, just over 42% received mental health services, numbers that must change as we enter a new decade. Looking for mental wellness solutions from the workplace to social media, look to new apps like Moodnotes and Jour promoting mental wellness through digital journaling.

Building a new social future for healthcare, 80% of consumers 18-24 are likely to share health information through social media, and could help establish a relationship of trust between healthcare professionals and the incoming Gen Z population.

The Shift: Dealing with an unprecedented set of problems, from the climate crisis to school violence and the pressures of social media, Gen Z is hampered by stress and anxiety.

The Takeaway: Removing the stigma around mental health, Gen Z’s “you be you” attitude opens the door for new relationships between medical professionals and young consumers.

Consider: Use digital platforms, from social media to telehealth, to cultivate an open door mentality with a generation in need of guidance and empathy.