Gen-Z and Mental Health : An Introduction
Updated: Feb 28
As young adults, we've become way too dependent on social validation solely because of things like likes and comments counters on Instagram and such. You've probably heard every adult lecture you about this , but we're here to spill some facts.
Young people often experience mental illness differently than adults
For one, our teenage years are some of the most important for brain development: synapses are pruned and strengthened; neurological connections continue to form well into our twenties. Likewise, our teenage years are often when we start to develop mental health problems.
Half of the people who develop mental health conditions get them by age 14, and 75% get them by age 24.
Further, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), most of these cases go undiagnosed and/or untreated despite the fact that depression and suicide are well known in the medical community to disproportionately affect young people.3 Indeed, people often put teenagers’ mental health concerns down to “teenage angst” or
“that’s just how kids are at that age,”
and it is often unclear what the distinction between the two is.
This is very dangerous, as the WHO also maintains that “adolescents with mental health conditions are in turn particularly vulnerable to social exclusion, discrimination, stigma (affecting readiness to seek help), educational difficulties, risk-taking behaviors, physical illhealth and human rights violations.”
In essence, the lack of attention to mental health and the misconceptions surrounding it only further impact teens and young adults further down the road.
Beyond the relative fragility of the young adult brain and the lack of attention and care we receive, we are exposed to some peculiar and extraordinary pressures that simply aren’t the norm for adults. As a result, adults often fail to understand the concerns of young people, and brush off their concerns as whining or weakness.
We’ve all seen the tweets, posts, and comments about kids these days”—it’s a common refrain throughout history. Only now, we really might be seeing a shift where the kids truly aren’t alright.
Millennials and Gen Z appear to face higher levels of mental illness than Gen Xers . Or at least, we are more willing to talk about them.
Whatever the case, it is important to be aware of these youth-related stressors and how they may be affecting our mental health. Likewise, there are any number of situations and interactions that teens and young adults face regularly where adults are the ones on the other side or just out of the loop entirely.
Things like dealing with parents, teachers, first bosses, adjusting to a new school, or trying to fit in in a new social environment are all situations that adults have often forgotten about, or at least don’t take into consideration as much as they should.