June 21, 2024 3:24 am

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Cross-Generational Talk Urged to Tackle Gen Z’s Mental-Health Worries

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Many Gen Zers have indicated their first step in managing behavioral health challenges was going to TikTok or Reddit for advice from the young people. (Jacob Lund/Adobe Stock)
Many Gen Zers have indicated their first step in managing behavioral health challenges was going to TikTok or Reddit for advice from the young people. (Jacob Lund/Adobe Stock)

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 Alex Gonzalez, Producer

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Monday, August 14, 2023   

One doctor of behavioral health and licensed professional counselor in Arizona said he has found ‘Gen Zers,’ those born after 1996, are not only talking more about mental health, but also seeking more mental health care compared with other generations.

Research has shown Gen Z has reported feeling double the amount of emotional distress compared to millennials and more than triple the levels reported by baby boomers.

Dr. Sabit Bojaj, clinical director for Community Bridges, said “exposure to world problems at a very young age have greatly contributed to emotional deregulation.” He added while Gen Z is more willing to talk about mental health, they are struggling to find and afford care.

“They feel really lost in the world, and it is because there is that huge barrier that the world is moving so fast, things are changing so fast our brain doesn’t have the capacity,” Bojaj explained. “But also, our policies and procedures and everything we do within the health care system is not changing as fast.”

For those who are part of Gen Z and have already started working, Bojaj strongly encourages them to check their health insurance plans to see if they have mental health care benefits. For those still in school, he pointed out many institutions offer free resources which many times go underutilized.

He added it is important to remember it may take time to find the right counselor or therapist.

Dr. Donald Tavakoli, national medical director of behavioral health for UnitedHealthcare, said it is important to realize physical health and mental health are intertwined. He recognized Gen Z has gone through adolescence and young adulthood during what he sees as an interesting time.

“While we know that rates of mental illness were on the rise among adolescents and young adults, the COVID pandemic certainly had an impact, a disruption on social experiences,” Tavakoli observed.

Tavakoli pointed out many Gen Z folks, even up to age 26, can maintain coverage on certain plans through their parents’ health insurance, giving them some time to transition. 

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