According to our Gen Z Wellbeing Check 2021, mental health matters are finally going mainstream (yassss!).
Nearly 1 in 2 Gen Zs (41%) told us they’ve seen a mental health professional for therapy, and another one in ten say while they haven’t yet, they’d like to.
Far removed from the stereotypes of awkward conversations on a shrink’s couch – or worse, rocking back and forth in a straitjacket – young people today just don’t see shame in seeking help for their mental health.
So how did Gen Zs lose the ‘crazy’ cringe-factor and become more comfortable talking about their mental health than the generations of young people before them?
The ‘self-aware’ generation
The most digitally savvy generation ever has literally never known a world without the internet.
And while we’re aware of Gen Z’s unique access to an unlimited world of knowledge, we don’t think so much about how the world has also had access to them.
The first generation to grow up with social media, Gen Z’s been significantly influenced by the culture of sharing (often deeply) personal information with friends, family and total strangers on the internet.
“Gen Z is more open to talking about mental health for many reasons,” Dr Shauna Springer told Marketscale.
“This is the ‘nothing is private’ generation, and they’ve grown up in an era where they are used to people disclosing what was private. So they have the vocabulary to talk about it.”
That’s played a huge part in helping de-stigmatise mental health and seeking therapy.
Put simply, now that it’s no longer the world’s worst-kept secret that many of us will struggle with our mental health within our lifetime, Gen Zs are less embarrassed than older generations to proactively ask for help.
“For multiple years I put up a front, I suppressed my feelings and emotions and never gave myself to time to really find out who I am or allow myself to honour my feelings,” a 17-year-old female from Victoria said.
“With lockdowns, I had no other option – I could no longer hide from my own mask and had to come face to face with each insecurity, doubt and negative thoughts.
“In discovering myself and proactively putting in the work to heal myself, I’ve been able to truthfully express myself and acknowledge the s*** I went through and be authentic with how I’m feeling. This led me to going to therapy for the first time, being honest when people ask me how I am and just stop being so hard on myself.”
But there’s still a long way to go – just because Gen Zs are willing to seek help, it’s not always available.
Waiting lists are long, and many Gen Zs simply can’t afford therapy.