Without a doubt the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic and its related effects are having a negative impact in many areas of our lives such as financial, work, academic, social, health and emotional realms. With such an increase in stress we must reinforce our self-care routine to sustain our wellbeing as we do not have a timeline for improvement. According to the American Psychological Association 7 out of 10 Americans have experienced an increase in stress due to the pandemic and are reporting: yelling at their loved ones, mood swings and tension in their bodies, among others.
The ongoing pandemic has affected the Gen Z population (ages 8-23 years old) more significantly because they are in their academic, and labor force stage. Older Americans have other points of reference but Gen Z adults ages 18 to 23 are in the stage of life such as attending college, starting a career, a family, and becoming independent in their life. Seven out of ten Gen Z are reporting tiredness (75%), concentration difficulties (73%), loneliness (73%), restlessness (74%) and feeling “miserable or unhappy (71%)”.
“Half of Gen Z teens (51%) report that the coronavirus pandemic makes planning for their future feel impossible, and more than 2 in 3 Gen Z adults in college (67%) say the coronavirus pandemic makes planning for their future feel impossible.” Source: APA.org
Working with the Gen Z population, I often hear the relationship and academic disruption the increased stress has caused. Parents can help their young adults by encouraging them, reminding them they are in a global pandemic and adjusting their expectations. With increased stress, and less chances to socialize teens and young adults in this age group may become apathetic, discouraged, and even hopeless as they are not able to plan for their future as before. All generations are having an impact due to the pandemic; however, the Gen Z is having the most intense mental health effects.
Here are some ways to support the Gen Z in our lives:
Create meaningful opportunities for connections with family, culture, and community. Although many have left home physically, these connections remain fundamental to youth well-being.
Create traditions for Gen Z that celebrate milestones in new ways. They can be the generation that reinvents society by creating new celebrations and traditions that are meaningful.
Facilitate access to mental health services, telehealth services are a good option during and after the pandemic. This can include telehealth services and increasing funding to better support mental health services provided within schools when this is over.
Provide educational, work, training and employment opportunities specifically targeted at supporting this generation of young adults. They need to see a possible path forward for themselves.
Thank our youngest generation for the sacrifices they have made for the greater good. This includes social involvement that is critical to their development, milestones such as graduations and proms, and even their education.
We should acknowledge what they and many others are doing to keep us safe.
Source: Dr. Emma Adam, Northwestern University; Dr. Earl Turner, Pepperdine University
Maribel Corona LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor
Source: Stress in AmericaTM survey 2019