Generation Z: The Unhappiest Generation
Generation Z refers to teenagers born at the turn of the millennium, the oldest of which are entering their early 20s. As they reach the peak of their young adult lives, this generation should be happy, having fun and preparing for the future. So why are we seeing an increase in depressive symptoms in this generation? Mental health problems and self-harm are on the rise among British teenagers of Generation Z, even as we see a significant decrease in antisocial behaviour and substance use. So why are teenagers facing such severe mental health?
The lives of teenagers in today’s modern world are vastly different from what their parents and grandparents would have experienced. Social media and the current Covid-19 pandemic impact the way these teenagers think, feel and interact with the world. Without the right support or guidance on how to protect their mental health, thousands of Generation Z teenagers are facing problems like depression and anxiety.
If you feel like you may be facing a mental health issue, or perhaps you are a concerned adult, then please keep reading. As an expert in treating clients of every age, I understand the specific stresses which cause Generation Z teenagers to feel lost and unhappy in the world.
Effects of Social Media
Research found that nearly three-quarters of Generation Z actively use Instagram, followed by 63% using Snapchat. And while social media platforms are great for connecting this generation of teenagers and young adults with world news, it can also cause them great harm. According to research from the University College London, Generation Z teenagers are more likely to self-harm, suffer from poor body image, skip sleep and be overweight. This can often be attributed to the effect of social media as it’s overwhelmed with doctored images, fake facts and rife with bullies. This can lead to the development of depression, anxiety and body image issues.
Generation Z teenagers and young adults may feel like they have to look or act a certain way because of what they see online. Bullies attacking people online can also cause teenagers to negatively think about themselves. If this is left unaddressed by Generation Z or others around them, then it can cause serious health complications with weight, a deep depression or even suicidal thoughts.
Impact of Lockdown
The Covid-19 pandemic is the first major historical event that Generation Z have witnessed in their lifetime. For the younger teenagers, it can be extremely confusing and overwhelming. For those on the older end of the generation, the knowledge of the real impact of the pandemic can be scary and concerning. As the most socially-driven generation, Generation Z teenagers are very up-to-date with the situation as it unfolds around them. But being hyper-aware of every statistic and change can be damaging to their mental health.
Research shows that Generation Z teenagers were already dealing with depression and anxiety before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the impact of lockdown has severely impacted their mental health even further. With uncertain financial situations, schooling switching to online and isolating from friends and family, Generation Z teenagers are facing strong depressive feelings and anxiety over their health.
What to Do?
If you are feeling unhappy or weighed down in life, then you need to consider what is affecting your emotions. 2020 has been a rollercoaster for every generation, but Generation Z teenagers are some of the most affected. If you are suffering from body image issues, the first thing you need to do is consider the impact of social media. I’m not saying you have to remove yourself from the apps altogether, but rather unfollow the pages and people that make you feel bad about yourself. Instead, look for accounts that promote body-positivity, health and happiness. By changing your Instagram feed to reflect how you wish to feel, it will keep negative thoughts and feelings away and help you develop a better mindset.
If you are suffering from depression or health anxiety as a result of lockdown, then you need to start easing yourself back into society. Being isolated away from everyone for weeks or months can harm your mental health. Try organizing house visits or coffee-date catch-ups with friends and family. If you are afraid for your health, don’t rush in too soon with meeting people as this can only make it worse. Instead, start with phone calls or chats over Zoom, then as your anxiety eases, you can meet face-to-face.
Therapy for depression and anxiety is also a great way to overcome symptoms which keep you down and gain an understanding of your mental health. If you can see why you are facing depression or anxiety, it is easier to tackle the issue from the root cause. Has isolation brought your mood down? Ease yourself back into society. Do negative images cause you to be anxious over what you eat? Learn to accept yourself, no matter your size. All of this is easier said than done, and that’s why therapy is a great way to support you on your mental health journey. I have experience helping clients come to terms with the mental health issues they face and find solutions, tactics and habits that can help you keep a positive mindset.
Check out our website today to learn more about my services as a therapist and how I can support your (or your child’s) mental health journey. We shouldn’t just look after our physical fitness, but our mental health too. If we don’t keep on top of our thoughts and emotions, mental health issues can deepen and cause unrelenting anxiety or unhappiness for many years and decades to come.