Nearly 70% of Generation Z, people born between 1997 and 2012, say their mental health was adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 42% of adult members of the cohort reporting that they have been diagnosed with a mental health condition and many of them say they are worried about the future, a new study from data management firm Harmony Healthcare IT shows.
The study, which is based on a survey of 1,055 Gen Z members from the age of 18 to 24 in September, included 47% men, 45% women, 6% who identify as nonbinary, and 2% trans-identified individuals.
According to the report, some 57% of Gen Z adults struggling with their mental health reported taking medication to alleviate their condition and paying an average of $44 monthly.
The most frequently cited conditions were anxiety and depression which were reported by 90% and 78% of respondents, respectively.
Other conditions reported include: ADHD, 27%, PTSD, 20%, OCD, 17%, eating disorder 14%, and insomnia 12%. Less than 10% reported more diagnoses of bipolar disorder, addiction and substance abuse, and borderline personality disorder.
While only one in five reported going to therapy for their mental health and spending an average of $149 monthly to do so, 87% of them found it helpful.
“Nearly a third (31%) of Gen Zers said they would rate their overall mental health in 2022 as bad. When asked to describe their mental health over the period of one month, one out of four reported having more bad days than good,” researchers noted. “On average, Gen Z reported about 10 tough mental health days in the span of one month.”
When it comes to discussing their mental health, a majority, 87% of Gen Z, said they feel comfortable talking about mental health, in general, with others, and 63% said they are comfortable discussing their own mental health with others.
They reported feeling more comfortable discussing the topic with their friends, siblings and parents, however. They are least comfortable discussing mental health with their boss, strangers and grandparents.
“More than half (52%) said they feel uncomfortable discussing mental health with their boss. More than one in 10 Gen Zers admitted they have had a conversation with their boss about it, and while 91% of bosses were supportive, about one out of 10 (9%) were not,” the report said.
“With the recent increase of quiet quitting (refusing to do more than what your job description requires), Gen Z are making sure to take care of their mental health on the job,” researchers continued. “More than three in five (62%) have taken a mental health day off school or work. In the first eight months of 2022, Gen Z has taken an average of three mental health days to recuperate.”
According to the report, Gen Z also spends an average of four hours daily on social media, particularly YouTube and many have made a connection to their poor mental health and social media. More than half, 57%, said they had to take a break from social media for their mental health while another 36% reported that they deleted their social media to protect their mental health.
When it comes to concern about the future the majority expressed how insecure they felt especially when it comes to their finances.
“Gen Z is worried about the future. Nearly 90% of Gen Z does not feel like their generation has been set up for success, and 75% feel they have a disadvantage compared to other generations,” the report said.
“Some of the biggest concerns have to do with finances and work. More than three in five (66%) do not feel financially stable, and 50% do not feel ready to join the workforce,” it added. “Overall, 89% of Gen Z are worried about their personal finances, and 70% are concerned about the economy.
In 2020, as COVID-19 dawned on the globe and prescriptions for depression, anxiety and insomnia spiked, Dr. Roger McIntyre, who is currently a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto and head of the Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit at the University Health Network in Toronto, warned in an earlier interview with The Christian Post that the mental health pandemic could explode in the U.S. if steps aren’t taken to prevent it.
According to Express Scripts, America’s largest pharmacy benefit management organization, nearly one in five U.S. adults experienced a mental health condition in 2018, and the rate of psychological disorders has risen dramatically among younger people in the past decade. From 2008-2018, the overall prevalence of mental illness increased 8%, from 177 to 191 per 1,000, and potentially disabling mental illness by 24%, from 37 to 46 per 1,000.
Mental health conditions were also recorded as the costliest health conditions in the U.S., with a price tag of more than $200 billion annually, and more than $193 billion in lost earnings per year.
Mental health issues were also noted as the most common cause of hospitalizations for people ages 45 and younger. Within a month of being discharged from the hospital, some 13 percent of mental health discharges are readmitted.
“Not only do mental health conditions affect a person psychologically, they also negatively impact their physical health. People with mental health conditions are at higher risk for a wide range of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease,” explains the study. “People who have both a mental health condition and a chronic disease have two to three times higher health care costs than those with only a chronic disease.”