In it’s most recent Stress in AmericaTM survey, the American Psychological Association (APA) explored the factors causing stress among members of Generation Z. Although highly reported issues such as gun violence, immigration, and opioid addiction are stressing out the young generation, Gen Z members are likely to reach out for help.
Research indicates that members of Generation Z, young people born after 1995, are under considerable stress. Indeed, 91 percent of the generational cohort report having experienced negative health symptoms associated with stress. Moreover, fewer than half of Gen Zers—just 45 percent—consider themselves to be in excellent mental health, a far cry from the 56 percent claimed by their Millenial generation predecessors.
Stress can lead to various physical, emotional, and mental health problems. Depression, bipolar disorder, and physical pain are often associated with stress.
So what is causing Generation Z so much stress?
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and other social media platforms have put the online world at Gen Z’s fingertips and provided members outlets with which they can connect, share, and talk with others around the world. However, at the same time, social media offers people the ability to voice real-time negative comments known to have adverse effects. Around 45 percent of Gen Zers say social media gives them the sense of being judged, while 38 percent say it often makes them feel bad about themselves.
As it turns out, social media is not the only online activity causing stress among young people. Researchers have detected associations between overall screen time and lower emotional well-being in children and adolescents.
Through the first five months of 2019, public mass shootings have occurred at the frightening pace of two per month. Not surprisingly, 56 percent of Gen Z students say they worry about being caught up in a possible school shooting. Schools across the United States are rightfully taking precautions to prevent classroom violence and, in doing so, adding more fearful thoughts in the minds of Generation Z.
Online media outlets—both mainstream and alternative—publish new headlines every hour. Topics range from politics and sexual harassment to immigration and celebrity gossip. News stories tend to focus on the negative aspects of what happens, and that approach influences how people—including Gen Z—view the world.
Politicians at national and regional levels take opposing stances on controversial news topics, adding to negativity in the news. No wonder 69 percent of Americans say the country’s future causes them stress.
Work and Money
While most of us experience occasional personal matters that produce stress, two areas affect Gen Z more than other generations: work and money. Seventy-seven percent cite work as a significant source of anxiety compared to 64 percent of adults overall. Money provides considerable pressure for 88 percent of Generation Z members, including apprehension about mounting personal debt, housing instability, and food insecurity.
Approximately 40 percent of all American adults report the opioid and heroin epidemic as a source of stress. Moreover, half of Gen Zers know someone diagnosed with a drug or alcohol problem, and 7 percent say they have an addiction problem.
Alarmingly, one in 4 Gen Z members would not know where to turn to find help with a drug or alcohol problem.
The good news is that, while Generation Z is among the most stressed age group, its members are highly likely to discuss their problems. Admittedly, 37 percent have sought professional mental health help. While news headlines, work and money issues, and substance abuse affect their mental health, Gen Zers are openly searching for answers.