Gen Z’s worries highlighted in annual stress survey

By Susan Gonsalves
March 25th, 2019

gen z stressGeneration Z, individuals ages 15 to 21, feel stressed out about ripped-from-the- headlines topics like school and mass shootings, sexual assault, and immigration according to the annual Stress in America™ survey by the American Psychological Association.

The Harris Poll was conducted last summer online among 3,458 adults and 300 15 to 17-year-olds in all 50 states.

Although 75 percent of Gen Z members found mass shootings `significantly’ stressful and 72 percent felt that way about school shootings, those kids of voting age were least likely to vote at 54 percent.

The overall average had seven in 10 adults expecting to vote.

One in five young people in this group said they are often or constantly worried about a shooting happening at their school.

One-third of parents felt re-assured by measures taken to beef up security at their kids’ schools while an equal amount did not feel relieved at all. Thirty-six percent said that the steps adopted only increased their stress levels about school shootings.

Forty-one percent of the students themselves were not re-assured by boosted security.

In addition to Gen Z, the individuals surveyed were broken up by age as follows: (Millennials 22-39); Gen Xers (40-53); Baby Boomers (54-72); Matures or Older Adults (73+).

Sexual assault and harassment issues tend to worry Gen Z the most as well, with more than half of those surveyed significantly disturbed by reports of sexual misconduct. In comparison, 39 percent of adults felt this way.

The poll showed that news about immigration, deportation and migrant families being separated has a significant impact on Gen Z at 57 percent compared to 45 percent of adults overall.

The youngest age group was also the most likely (27 percent) to report fair or poor mental health while Boomers (7 percent) and Older Adults (5 percent) were least likely.

Additionally, 37 percent of Gen Z said they received treatment from psychologists and other professionals. The other age groups were less likely to get help with 22 percent of Boomers and 15 percent of Older Adults taking that step, for example.

“Current events are clearly stressful for everyone in the country, but young people are really feeling the impact of issues in the news, particularly those issues that may feel beyond their control,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., Ph.D and APA’s chief executive officer in a statement.

He added that the high reporting of fair or poor mental health by Gen Z could mean that younger people are more aware and accepting of mental health issues.

“Their openness to mental health topics represents an opportunity to start discussions about managing their stress, no matter the cause,” Evans said.

All age groups expressed concern about the state of the nation, with 69 percent saying they are significantly stressed out about the country’s future. That figure represents an increase from 63 percent who felt that way last year.

Despite that finding, three fourths of those surveyed said they felt hopeful about the future.

Overall, three-fourth of adults said they experienced at least one physical or emotional symptom related to stress in the past month. Common symptoms included depression or sadness, lack of interest or motivation/energy, and nervous/anxious feeling.

In addition, stress is causing 45 percent of these people to lay awake at night worrying and more than a third to eat too much or in an unhealthy way in order to cope.

Twenty-four percent of adults cited discrimination as a significant source of stress, the highest percentage since it was included on the survey in 2015.

Black adults (46 percent) and Hispanic adults (36 percent) felt discrimination most compared with white adults (14 points).

Similar to past years, money and work continue to be identified as top stressors across the ages. Added to the list this year by Gen Z were personal debt and housing instability, each cited by more than a third of the teens.

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