TL;DR: Compared with older generations today, members of Gen Z are much more likely to report experiencing negative emotions such as stress, anxiety and loneliness.
According to a recent report put out by Gallup and the Walton Family Foundation (WFF), a smaller share of Gen Z is thriving compared to millenials at the same age.
The inaugural study focuses on how younger people (Gen Z) view themselves and their lives, while revealing their perspectives on mental health, financial security, optimism, and more. Researchers surveyed over 3,000 people between the ages of 18-26. Respondents were asked to rate their current lives and optimism for the future (or lack thereof), and were categorized as “thriving” if they scored themselves high in both categories.
Only 41% of Gen Z Americans aged 18-26 are thriving in their lives — among the lowest across all generations in the U.S. today, while 60% of millenials said they were thriving when they were the same age.
While many believe generational research can be unscientific and even offensive, the data still points to a noticeable shift in how people in different stages of life view their situation. According to an article from CNN Health, researchers said they found “evidence that Gen Z’s self-reported mental health struggles are distinct from those of previous generations at the same age.” Asked to describe their current mental health or well-being, only 15% of members of Gen Z aged 18-26 said it was excellent.
That’s a significant change compared to a decade ago, when 52% of millenials rated their mental health as excellent. Even further back in 2004, a whopping 55% of people aged 18-26 (millenials and Gen X) reported excellent mental health. To help explain the sharp decrease over the last 20 years, researchers point out that overall declines in mental health are responsible. Life is just, harder these days.
This isn’t the only study highlighting Gen Z’s mental health struggles.
Earlier this year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said poor mental health remains a “substantial public health problem” for adolescents, especially among teen girls.
A 2018 report from the American Psychological Association found that more members of Gen Z thought their mental health was poor, compared to other generations. Researchers called the shift concerning, but noted there could also be a positive sign.
“This generation may be more tuned in to recognizing issues with their mental health than older generations,” psychologist Arthur Evans said. That also means more people are getting help for mental health issues than ever before.
While the data might seem like a downer, Gen Z doesn’t see it that way. More than 75% of them feel like they have a bright future.
“There is quite an enduring optimism in the face of mental health struggles for this generation,” the study says.
(NOTE: This article is not a diagnosis. Always seek out a qualified counselor for advice on treatment plans)
FIND A CHRISTIAN THERAPIST
Research shows that much of the change people experience during their time in therapy is because they felt heard and understood by their therapist–that their therapist “got them” and that the guidance they gave was relevant and applicable. Because of this, it is critical that you find a therapist whom you can connect with, whom you feel comfortable with, whom you feel “gets you.” Therefore, we encourage you to take a few minutes to read a little about each one of our therapists. If you prefer to look at the counselors nearest to you, please click the office location buttons below. Otherwise, you can meet with any of our Christian Counselors online from the comfort of your own home. If you have questions about any of them, please contact us!