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Anxiety from A to Z


In 2018, the American Psychological Association (APA) conducted its 12th annual Stress in America survey to understand what causes stress in Americans’ lives and their strategies for coping with stress. The Harris Poll conducted the survey online on behalf of APA among 3,458 respondents ages 18+ living in the United States.

The survey results show that high-profile issues, such as sexual harassment and gun violence, are significant stressors for Gen Z. America’s youngest adults are most likely of all generations to report poor mental health, and Gen Z is also significantly more likely to seek professional help for mental health issues. Here’s a look at the issues Gen Z is most stressed about.


For a majority of Gen Z youth, gun violence—mass shootings and school shootings—are significant sources of stress. Seventy-five percent of those in this age group report mass shootings as a significant source of stress, and nearly as many say the same about school shootings or the possibility of them occurring. 


The nation

Many Gen Zs feel stress and concern about the nation. They reported average stress level related to the current state of the nation is 5.4 (on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is “little or no stress” and 10 is “a great deal of stress”), on par with the national average for adults overall regarding the state of the nation. 

While Gen Z has featured prominently in the news related to activism around issues affecting the current state of the nation, such as gun control, they are the generation least likely to go to the polls

More than half of Gen Z also identify the current political climate as a source of stress. Around two-thirds of those in this generation also say they feel very or somewhat significantly stressed about our nation’s future and do not believe the nation is moving toward being stronger than ever.

Issues in the news

A number of issues dominate the news cycle today, and for many Gen Z youth these issues are causing them stress, often in larger numbers than adults overall. Nearly six in 10 Gen Zs say the separation and deportation of immigrant and migrant families is a significant source of stress; less than half of all adults overall, on the other hand, consider this a stressor. 

The difference between Gen Zs and adults overall is evident in their stress about widespread sexual harassment and assault reports in the news, with more than half of Gen Z citing these reports as a significant source of stress and fewer than four in 10 of adults overall saying the same.


Personal life stressors

Money and work consistently top the list of stressors for adults overall, and both are common stressors for Gen Z as well. More than 81 percent of Gen Zs between the ages of 18 and 21 report money as a source of significant stress, with nearly as many saying the same about work.

Nearly two in three Gen Zs ages 15 to 17 report their families not having enough money is a significant source of stress. For more than three in 10 Gen Zs, personal debt and housing instability are a significant source of stress, while nearly three in 10 cite hunger or getting enough to eat.


Drugs and alcohol

The opioid crisis is a pressing concern in the U.S., and survey results show that Gen Z feels the impact of this crisis, with nearly 39 percent reporting that the opioid and heroin epidemic is a significant source of stress, nearly the same percentage as for adults overall. 

Half of Gen Zs reported that at least one person they know has been told they are addicted to or have a problem with drugs and alcohol. A much smaller number (7 percent) say they have been told the same about themselves.


Source: “Stress in America: Generation Z,” American Psychological Association

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