Gen Z has proven to be the generation of social change. Youth activists from around the world have held rallies, spread valuable information through social media, hosted virtual events and workshops, and done so much more to advocate for a myriad of social issues, including, but not limited to, the climate crisis, gender equity, racism, voting rights, and this month especially, mental health.
Mental health is an issue that not only Gen Zers advocate for and spread awareness about, but it’s also something everyone experiences every day. But why does Gen Z care so much? Young people have dealt with a significant increase in mental illness. In fact, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, more than half of Gen Zers say their mental health is not in a good place.
So, how does Gen Z cope with their mental health issues?
Mental Health Coping Mechanisms
Gen Z effectively has helped reduce the stigma around finding help for their mental health. 37% of Gen Zers state they received help for their mental health from a mental health expert. Therapy and professional sources of help are great ways to cope with mental issues, but the stigma and lack of awareness have been the primary reasons previous generations have been unable to reach out.
Gen Z also recognizes the social and economic obstacles communities of color face in coping with mental health. Organizations like Therapy for Black Girls seek to tackle these hurdles head-on. Gen Zers have driven active treatment in mental health—facing the problem and trying to fix it—but understand the nuance and privilege to unpack mental health issues.
Another one of Gen Z’s coping mechanisms includes adult professional nonprofits, such as Mental Health America, The National Institute of Mental Health, and The Unplug Collective, which have been a great source for youth to go to for aid. These charities have resources online and connections with therapists across the world. They also work to ameliorate the stigma around mental health through their social media.
There are also student-led mental health nonprofits, such as Plannr Consulting, who work towards fostering an age-related connection. These nonprofits, though not as professionally trained, are great sources for talking to peers who are in similar situations. Gen Zers have participated in and helped grow these student-powered nonprofits greatly, especially during the pandemic.
The digital age isn’t all bad. Apps, like Calm, are easy to download and use. Gen Zers have taken advantage of having apps like this right at their fingertips and used these apps to the fullest of extent. These aren’t fads or trends; they’re here to stay because they’ve been proven to help.
The app, Calm, also participated in a guided meditation with Harry Styles. Involving celebrities, like this initiative, is unique to reaching Gen Z, since the generation looks up to these icons so much.
The stats say it all. According to Pulse, 74% of young people want to learn more about meditation and mindfulness. Self-guided mental health tools can be motivational for Gen Zers to find the help that they may need.
Social media applications are valuable tools to spread awareness about any issues and form connections across the world. Gen Zers have used it as one of their coping mechanisms through following influencers who are open about their own mental health journeys, or even creating pages themselves to share their own stories.
Though there have been many instances of social media deterring for mental health, such as “doomscrolling,” many GenZers have found solace in mental health advocacy online. Rather than only scrolling through bad news, glimpses of positivity and resources for help also fill feeds with happiness. Although Gen Zers want to stay informed, the generation is also conscious of mental health and the adverse effects of social media. In response, young people have taken the necessary steps to make social media a less toxic space.
Nonprofits have also leveraged social media to post resources and spread awareness about different illnesses. Using social media as a mental health coping mechanism also entails coping with humor through Twitter, posting TikToks about illnesses, or completing various self-care challenges, as JUV did on our Instagram Stories.
The Stigma vs. Gen Z
Gen Z is more diverse, more educated, and more ready for change than any other generation thus far. This generation winning this battle between the stigma around mental health and finding help. According to Pulse, while only 41% of Gen Zers spoke to mental health professionals in 2017, 56% did in 2020. This increase clearly depicts how much growth we, as a society, have experienced in just the past couple of years.
While Gen Z is spreading awareness and trying to help others, it is clear that many in this generation also are looking for help themselves. While shattering the stigma around mental health, they have been reaching out for professional help or resorting to other self-care mechanisms, such as journaling or working out. Gen Z has risen to take charge of their own mental health, and that power is invaluable in reforming the way society perceives mental health in the future.
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.
Srilekha Cherukuvada is a 17-year-old Content Creator at JUV Consulting, and a planning-obsessed walrus-loving Netflix junkie. Based in Austin, Texas, she enjoys writing, reading, food, and is a huge coffee addict. Catch up with Srilekha on Instagram, @srileeka, or check out her portfolio at http://simplysrilekha.com.