Both depression and anxiety are mental health issues marked by internalized distress. These terms are defined in many ways throughout society, but diagnostically speaking, an individual must meet specific criteria to be diagnosed with either depression or anxiety. Regardless of these diagnostic definitions, however, individuals can experience bouts of depressed mood or anxious tendencies without struggling with a specific mental health disorder. In fact, most people experience some level of depression and anxiety throughout their lives.
Let’s be honest, we all have our moments when we feel low or when everything just feels like too much. So why do people keep saying that there is a mental health crisis going on today? Well, the simple answer is that rates of depression and anxiety are at an ultimate high, especially for today’s youth.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 3.2 million adolescents struggled with diagnosable depression in 2017 alone. Similarly, the National Institute of Health reports that one in three adolescents will experience an anxiety disorder. Not only are these rates high, but research shows that they have continued to rise over the last few years, specifically in younger populations. In fact, a survey by American Psychological Association found that the members of Gen Z report more mental health issues, overall, than past generations.
Adolescents have struggled with mental health issues in some way for hundreds of years at least, so what makes youth struggling with depression and anxiety different today?
Yes, adolescence is a period of development in which an individual is experiencing countless biological, mental and social transitions that have long been linked with increased mental health problems. However, the rising rates should not be overlooked. Not only are adolescents specifically going through a host of changes that we should be aware of, as well as provide support. Research shows this transitionary time also makes youth exceptionally susceptible to the structure of their social surroundings as they begin uncovering the person they would like to be. As such, the impact on youth today rests not only within factors related to age, but also in the social stress that rages in our society.
“Cancel culture,” “finna,” “glow up,” “sus”—welcome to the world of Gen Z. Born between 1996 and 2010, the Gen Z population currently ranges in age from 11 to 24. According to the Pew Research Center, “members of Gen Z are more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation, and they are on track to be the most well-educated generation yet.”
They are also the most stressed. Gen Z reports more stress related to current events such as social violence, rising rates of suicide, and climate change as compared to the rest of the population. At the same time, they are dealing with the increased pressure put on them by family, friends and society as a whole.
To read more about Anxiety from A-Z for Gen Z- Add the Mental Wellness Issue to your MASK Library