Youth Mental Health – Setting future generations up for success
Published by: TELUS Health,
Barb Veder, Chief Enterprise Clinician and LifeWorks Clinical Services Lead – LifeWorks
June 1, 2021
Youth mental health is both a key issue for employers and an area of opportunity. Younger generations have a higher level of mental health literacy than previous generations. They are more aware of the realities of mental illness and they are also more willing to seek help. If you can take advantage of this awareness and reach out to younger employees now, you can lay the foundations for a healthier, happier and more successful workforce in the future.
The current state of youth mental health
What we are seeing in Gen Z is a generation of wellness-savvy individuals who already have in-depth knowledge of mental health issues and the importance of establishing healthy habits.
At the same time, this is also the generation most likely to suffer from mental illness. According to a report on Stress in America by the American Psychological Society, Gen Z are 27% more likely to report their mental health as fair or poor compared to 15% for millennials and 13% for Gen Xers.
UK universities reported a fivefold increase in the number of students reporting mental health conditions between 2007 to 2017. The increase was particularly high among young women. Since the onset of the pandemic, Gen Z mental health also suffered more than any other generation, with more than half of the individuals surveyed between 18-24 years old reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Two of the greatest sources of stress for younger demographics are work and money-related issues. More than 9 in every 10 Gen Z adults reported experiencing at least one physical or emotional symptom of stress, including feeling depressed or lacking motivation or energy. Many also feel that they could benefit from more support at work. This demonstrates a clear need for employers to prioritize youth mental health in the workplace.
Providing resources and support for younger employees
The transparency surrounding mental health in younger demographics means there is less stigma attached to mental illness and younger employees are more willing to seek support. Employers would do well to act on this emerging reality and provide resources and support that caters to these individuals to maximize the benefit of improved health and wellbeing in their workplaces.
Any wellbeing solutions aimed at younger demographics needs to have a digital offering. Digital technology plays a central role in the lives of Gen Zers and younger generations. In a 2017 survey, both Gen Z and millennials estimated they communicate 74% digitally and 26% in-person and that number has no doubt risen since 2020.
In order to establish long-lasting wellness habits among younger employees, organizations need to have a comprehensive wellbeing strategy in place. LifeWorks’ Employee Assistance Program provides personalized total wellbeing services online, including 24-hour remote access to expert counsellors. Importantly, our wellbeing program is holistic, addressing social, financial, physical and mental health.
If you can encourage the adoption of healthy habits in younger employees, you will gain a more positive and productive workforce in return. Younger employees are looking for more well-being support at work so it is the duty of employers to cater to this need.
Setting up the future of employee wellbeing
By putting effective systems in place to support youth mental health, you can ensure the future success of your workforce. A holistic wellbeing strategy will help you to enact long-term positive change while enabling younger employees to grow and thrive in a supportive workplace environment.