Gen Z’s mental health - what is impacting it and what are they doing about it?

We Are Family have just completed a quantitative survey targeting Gen Z which has resulted in some fascinating insights. We asked 16-24 year olds in the UK, Germany, Spain, USA, Argentina and South Korea about all aspects of their lives from social media to SVOD, their physical and mental health, their work life and perception of brands - there was a whole load of detail and nuance in these buckets too. 

 

One of many insights we found was around mental health. In particular how Gen Z perceive their own mental health, the things that affect it and the things that they do to help it. 

 

Unsurprisingly, social media plays a big part in the lives of Gen Z. More than ever, they are interested in what we would call ‘bottom-up’ content, created ‘by them, for them’. What this means is that Gen Z want to consume content that feels relatable, authentic and as if it’s been created by their friend next door. This might be one reason why we found that Gen Z would miss YouTube the most out of any social media if it was taken away - they can’t get enough of the vlogging. 

 

But what this also means is that they are creating and sharing a lot more content than previous generations. Funnily enough, we found that 34% of Gen Z consider themselves to be social media influencers. But not everything they share is real, when we asked them about their level of ‘realness’ on different social media platforms it came out that snapchat is the most real (makes sense) and LinkedIn is the most fake (also, makes sense). 

 

We also found that Gen Z care quite a lot about what people think about them which could contribute towards their need to share a little bit of fake life news from time to time. All of this can take a toll on their mental health, as 30% of them describe their mental health as ‘bad or very bad’. 

 

Probably for the first time EVER they are really taking action to recognise this and fix it. Mental health is on their agenda. They’re looking after it, they know the kind of things that help them feel good and they’re not afraid of reaching out for help if they need to. 

 

97% of Gen Z claim to enjoy doing something specific for their mental health - whether it be having time to themself, talking to friends / family or exercising (for all markets apart from South Korea the main reason for exercising is ‘to feel good’). Over half of Gen Z have used or are using some form of mental health service, whether that is paid or free. Gen Z in Germany UK and USA most likely to be using a service out of the markets we surveyed. 

 

Gen Z also helps their mental health by having a purpose and something to stand for which they are constantly searching for and will actively support causes important to them via their channels of communication with the world. Having a purpose and something to stand for gives them content and allows them to present a version of themselves to their peers that they can curate to suit how they want to be seen to the world - helps with their perception which is so important to them! 

 

Gen Z might be stuck in a cycle which starts and ends with their adoration of social media and content creation but it doesn’t look like they’re going to stop engaging with it! At least they are taking steps towards bettering their mental health in other ways - reading, meditating, exercising and some more specific mental health services. Stay tuned for more insights from our Gen Z report, coming soon!

 

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Borja López-Niclós
Managing Partner