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The spiritual darkness behind Gen Z’s mental health crisis

Unsplash/Nicolas Lobos
Unsplash/Nicolas Lobos

One of the worst struggles Generation Z faces today is severe feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and depression. According to a report from the CDC, nearly half (42%) of Gen Z’ers reported feeling persistent hopelessness or despair over the last decade. Twenty-nine percent reported having “poor mental health” and 22% even considered suicide.

These kinds of devastating results have led many to conclude that Generation Z must be undergoing a mental health crisis. That may be true, but I don’t believe the “mental health crisis” is simply an unfortunate medical phenomenon that many seem to suggest. Rather, it is deeply spiritual in nature. Gen Z’ers who identify as “LGBT” have reported the highest levels of emotional despair, a whopping 69%.

As The Christian Post has reported, a recent study shows that 45% of Gen Z reads the Bible weekly or daily, and 49% report that it had a “transformative” effect on their lives. Yet, only 36% of Gen Z identifies as Christian, according to a Religion in Public poll. How is there more of Gen Z reading the Bible regularly than there even are those identifying as Christian?

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I think it is no coincidence that the number of Gen Z’ers interested in reading the Bible and the amount struggling with feelings of hopelessness and despair seem to parallel each other almost perfectly.

As human beings made in the image of God, if we are struggling with emotional issues like a mental health crisis, it makes perfect sense that we would subconsciously reach for the one solution that will have any lasting spiritual effect on our lives — a deep and personal relationship with our Creator.

As a member of Generation Z who once searched earnestly through many kinds of secular solutions — therapists, self-help books, even New Age practices like crystals — in order to alleviate feelings of hopelessness and despair, nothing compared to the healing I found in Christ. Upon coming to know Jesus, those feelings of hopelessness and despair dissipated as I developed a personal devotional life dedicated to prayer and Bible study. It is now hard for me to even remember the times when I had felt so distraught. I wasn’t mentally ill like so much of culture was telling me; I just needed to find God.

With all that being said, the point I want to make clear is that the spiritual underpinnings of Gen Z’s so-called mental health crisis call for spiritual solutions. And not the demonic, occult solutions hiding under the guise of New-Age spirituality, but biblically rooted, Christ-centered ones.

For people battling such persistent thoughts of hopelessness so much that they struggle to see a purpose for their life at all, Christians must be ready to share with them the hope and purpose that is gained from believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. God fills us with hope of eternal life and a bodily resurrection, where one day God will “wipe every tear from our eyes” and there will be no more “mourning, crying, or pain” (Revelation 21:4). This is our great hope and comfort as Christians.

While some struggling people legitimately benefit from counseling or therapy, it will not do any good absent an eternal perspective. Biblically-rooted pastoral counseling will always be a better option because it prioritizes this.

Those dabbling in New Age practices like witchcraft, crystals, and the occult must be warned of the grave danger they are in through opening doors to the demonic. They must know that there is a literal and tangible Creator: the person of Jesus Christ. Through Him, all things were made, and all that was made was created to bring Him glory. This means pretty rocks are just pretty rocks. They don’t possess any power to mediate freedom from “negative energy.”

I understand the solution may not be as simple for those who struggle with legitimate mental health issues, like bipolar disorder and other serious conditions. But for the many Gen Z’ers blindly navigating a godless culture that celebrates transgenderism and the occult, it’s really no wonder so many of us feel so terrible.

Similarly, it’s no wonder then that such a huge number are searching for answers in the book that speaks to every one of life’s biggest questions — the Bible.

In order to see the wave of hopelessness and despair decrease in the lives of Gen Z, Christians must be willing to offer Christ to these hurting groups through sharing the Gospel and discipling them to remain steadfast in faith — the only thing that brings healing and freedom.

Sarah Prentice is a CampusReform correspondent. 

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