For Gen Z, prioritizing mental health is a beast of a task. For many people in our generation, mental health points at and indicts a lot of aspects of our lives for better or worse: well-being, work-life balance, relationships, school, and much more.
With that said though, these reasons and challenges are so important to talk about openly. Much like other issues our society faces, we can’t change how things are without first telling it like it is. And with 63% of Gen Zers in the U.S. reporting experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression over the last year, it is beyond time for us to face this head-on.
As someone who experiences anxiety and depression clinically, I wanted to share some tips for navigating feelings or experiences many of us may have had over the last year.
I lead with the caveat that I am not a mental health professional. For those who might need one, I suggest Psychology Today’s search function (which is coincidentally how I found my own therapist).
Lesson #1: It won’t always be ok, and that’s ok.
Tradition in society tells us that ‘everything will be ok,’ and if it’s not, it is something about ourselves that is the problem. This is simply false. Sometimes, sh*t is really hard, and toxic positivity, the notion telling us to keep a positive attitude despite situational stressors, can actually make things worse. When we are sad, down, or frustrated, we need to feel those feelings. We need to not let them overwhelm us, but we need to feel them nonetheless.
Lesson #2: Not everyone will like you, and you won’t like everyone either. This is normal.
This is one of the hardest things I have had to come to on my own in both personal and professional settings. At the end of the day, I know I am not everyone’s cup of tea. Not everyone is mine, either! I spent so much of my time and energy in my teenage years and early 20’s trying to make people like me and presenting a side of myself that wasn’t always honest or truly “me” for the sake of molding myself into what I thought these people wanted me to be. As I mature into young adulthood, I have put this energy into myself, because that’s the person I need to like.
Lesson #3: You are not a lesser or weak person for asking for help or support (in fact, the opposite).
It takes a strong person to realize and identify issues like burnout, over-commitment, and when we are acting at our own expense. When you reach out for help, you are putting yourself first, as you should be, and that takes guts. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.
Lesson #4: You are not alone, ever.
We all have support systems, that can include everything from friends, to chosen family, to relatives, to actual practitioners like therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists. Recognizing the people around you care about you and want to see you well can be difficult, especially when we are going through hard times, but nobody can internalize that except you.
JUV Consulting is a Gen Z collective that works with companies to create purpose-driven and authentic marketing campaigns that engage young audiences. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn how to reach Gen Z, or sign up for our weekly newsletter, The Screenshot, to get Gen Z insights straight to your inbox.