In 2018 the American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a survey of respondents between the ages of 15 to 21 years (Generation Z) with the aim of understanding stress in young Americans’ lives.
What is causing our stress?
Among Generation Z the top stressors included:
- Gun violence: specifically, mass shootings and school shootings.
- Concern about the nation: climate change, the rise in suicide rates, separation and deportation of immigrant and migrant families
- Sexual assault: hearing about sexual assault on the news.
Young people are also more stressed than older age groups on a variety of other issues such as:
- Personal debt
- Housing instability
- Drug and alcohol addicted family members
- Gender-related issues such as sexual orientations and gender identity
Despite high numbers of individuals from Generation Z feeling stress from many different sources, only half of those surveyed reported that they feel they are doing enough to manage stress. Nearly two-thirds felt they could have used more social support over the past year.
Not just Generation Z
Too much stress is reported across older generations as well in America. Among adults, 20% feel they are not managing their stress well.
What’s at stake?
Stress is a natural part of life. However, stress needs to be dealt with and relieved in healthy ways. If we are under chronic stress, our bodies suffer. One of the most commonly discussed health problems in the modern age is the chronic activation of the sympathetic autonomic nervous system, otherwise known as the fight-or-flight response.
Some symptoms of stress include (but are not limited to) upset stomach, headaches, chest pain, insomnia, and clenching the jaw or grinding teeth.
Over the long term, stress increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke. Other physical problems are obesity or other eating disorders, skin and hair problems, acne, hair loss and more.
Our overall wellbeing and mental health are also negatively impacted by stress. Stress increases our risk of developing depression and anxiety and even memory and cognitive impairment.
How are we managing our stress?
The most common form of stress relief is connecting to friends for emotional support. Next on the list is connecting to family and parents. However, many do not feel they receive adequate support. Therapy has been proven to be effective in helping teens and adults manage stress.
What we can do
Given the effects of stress on our bodies, it is essential to integrate mental health care into our overall healthcare plan. Even if insurance companies are not paying, stress and mental health is something we all can take action on and create our own prevention plan.
Find ways to reduce stress in your life, no matter what your age. While Generation Z reports higher rates of stress in comparison to other ages and poorer mental health, they are also more likely to seek professional help for mental health issues.
This report is very encouraging. It shows young people in America are beginning to understand the importance of mental health and are willing to take agency and seek treatment. As a result, this generation is more likely to lead healthier lives due to their own willingness to seek help and guide themselves to a better and healthier future.
If you would like to learn more about how I can help you with stress or any other mental health issue, you are welcome to call and book your first appointment or fill out our contact form and click send.