With this week’s focus on mental health (October 10 is designated as World Mental Health Day), there has been much discussion about generational gaps in awareness, attitudes, and treatment. As a 22-year-old female, I identify with Generation Z, from TikTok trends to more serious topics like higher rates of mental health challenges.
In recent years, Gen Z has been reported to experience higher rates of mental health challenges than any other age group. As someone who has experienced first-hand the effect of mental health challenges on loved ones, and through my past work as a pharmacy technician serving patients with psychosocial needs, I find myself reflecting on why this may be.
I think of the contrasting factors that my peers and I experienced during the formative years of our childhoods compared to other generations. I concluded that we continue to face inevitable tragedies and difficulties, including school shootings, social media pressures, the rapid pace of technological changes, a global pandemic, increased student-debt, unemployment, and turbulent politics – all contributing to making this ever-changing world exceptionally difficult for Gen Z.
Despite these struggles, Gen Z has courageously been sharing their mental health struggles within their communities to spread awareness. Recently, a ‘Little Miss’ meme showing literary characters made the rounds on social media. The meme is meant to prod at a person’s habits or personality traits, but Gen Z took it to a new level: being transparent about mental health.
Soon after its debut, Simone Biles, American Olympic Medalist, took the meme in a different direction to remind us that even famous athletes are beginning to put their mental health first. It is idols who share stories like this that authenticate mental health and influence us to see that it is okay to get help.
With the increase in reported mental health cases, Vibrant Emotional Health recently announced the creation of a three-digit dialing code in the United States – 988 – that routes callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and increases the accessibility of life-saving resources for those experiencing mental health challenges.
As a healthcare communications professional, I strive to spread mental health awareness using communication tools with the aim of helping my fellow Gen-Zers find the support they need. And I am happy to work at an organization that takes mental health challenges seriously. Here at Current Global, employees are encouraged to utilize a range of programs to incorporate mental health coping strategies into daily life – from partaking in gym classes, book clubs, meditation/massage therapies, and much more.
Within our health team, we also support client programming that focuses on improving mental health. I recently worked with United Therapeutics Oncology on a panel discussion promoting coping strategies for those affected by pediatric cancer and its impact on mental health. It is rewarding to support this work and to learn about various perspectives on how to cope. For more information, visit Coping with Childhood Cancer | Resource Center.
As the world considers the discussions that have been raised during this week’s focus on mental health, I am humbled to have this opportunity to shine a light on the stigma of mental health challenges. Because whether you are Gen Z or not, we can all make a difference by supporting those around us and continuing to spread awareness and acceptance. Even the best among us is faced with obstacles at some point that are challenging mentally. Let us work together to de-stigmatize the condition and normalize the need to seek and provide help.
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