Cost of living, unemployment, climate change top societal concerns
KOHIMA: High cost of living, unemployment, and climate change are top societal concerns among Gen Zs and Millennials, and these are cumulative issues impacting daily lives, making their future more uncertain and placing their mental well-being under continuous strain.
This was revealed by Deloitte’s ‘2023 Global Gen Z and Millennial’ survey released this month based on responses of 22,856 respondents, including 14,483 Generation Zs (those born between January 1995 and December 2004) and 8,373 Millennials (those born between January 1983 and December 1994) from 44 countries, including India (800 respondents).
In the backdrop of these high cost of living, unemployment, and climate change challenges, the survey found out that mental health is Gen Zs’ fourth top societal concern.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has receded as a day-to-day concern for many people, it has been observed that the legacy has embedded undeniable shifts in personal priorities and in expectations around ways of working.
“In 2023 we see little change when it comes to levels of stress and anxiety. Nearly half of Gen Zs and four in 10 Millennials feel stressed or anxious all or most of the time, with women and other under-represented groups most impacted,” said the report, adding that in line with the 2022 findings, stigma around mental health clearly remains.
However, there is a general recognition that employers are improving their support but many employees are still not using the resources offered in their workplaces, and many are still not disclosing when they take time off work for mental health reasons, it said.
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While noting that this year’s data again highlighted the importance of mental health to Gen Zs and Millennials, the report also pointed out that employers are taking some steps to provide the support and environment needed, but there remains much to do.
The report of 2020, which was fielded in December 2019, painted a stark picture: One of high levels of stress and anxiety, even before the onset of the pandemic, it said, adding that this has continued ever since.
Stress, anxiety remain high
According to the latest survey, this year saw almost no change in the worryingly high levels of stress and anxiety seen in previous years, with close to half of Gen Zs (46%) and four in 10 Millennials (39%) reporting that they felt stressed or anxious all or most of the time.
It also saw a continuation in the trend of women reporting higher levels of stress and anxiety than men in both generations (54% versus 37% in Gen Zs, and 43% versus 35% in Millennials).
Asserting that this trend is becoming increasingly pronounced among Gen Zs, with the gender gap growing from an 11 to a 17-point difference over the last three years, it also pointed out that ‘in contrast, the gender gap in millennial stress levels has remained relatively stable since 2020’.
The survey said that women are more affected than men and those with a disability indicate higher stress levels. It highlighted that respondents in under-represented groups also report heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
For instance, 56% of LGBT+ Gen Zs and 49% of LGBT+ Millennials reported that they felt stressed or anxious all or most of the time, along with 52% of Gen Zs and 51% of Millennials who are part of an ethnic minority group, and 62% of Gen Zs and 63% of Millennials who have a disability. This is significantly higher than the overall respondent base (46% for Gen Z and 39% for millennials).
The mental health “feedback loop” and work-related factors were attributed as stress drivers, while three-quarters say concerns about their mental health contribute to anxiety or stress and work is also a consistent challenge.
Further, generational elements are also contributing to poor mental health and for the first time, this year’s survey also examined how some generational factors may be driving poor mental health in Gen Zs and Millennials, according to the report.
Millennials, and to a slightly lesser extent Gen Zs, are reaching an age where they are more likely to have increased caretaking responsibilities. Just over a third of Gen Zs and about four in 10 Millennials have daily or periodic caregiving responsibilities for both children and parents or elderly relatives.
Among respondents with caretaking responsibilities, over 40% say it significantly impacts their mental health. The use of social media by younger generations could also be having an effect and surprisingly, almost half of Gen Zs (48%) and Millennials (49%) think social media has a positive impact on their mental health, yet 46% of Gen Zs say social media makes them feel lonely and inadequate and 45% say that they feel under pressure to have an online presence. It added that ‘with one in five (20%) Gen Zs spending five hours or more a day on video platforms alone, the struggle to disconnect goes well beyond the workplace’.
Mental health at workplace
The study also highlighted the need for addressing mental health needs at workplace while noting that ‘burnout is on the rise’ linked to the results around work-related stress drivers. It found out increasingly high levels of burnout due to work pressures in Gen Zs (52% this year versus 46% in 2022) and Millennials alike (49% versus 45%).
It stated that employers are striving to support workplace mental health. Looking at broader workplace support for mental health, the results are more encouraging, with over half of respondents acknowledging that their leaders are taking mental health seriously.
While this is comparable to 2022 findings, a key difference this year lies in the fact that a majority of respondents (56% of Gen Zs/ 53% of Millennials) now feel that this increased focus is resulting in meaningful change.
It also pointed out that mental health and well-being support is still under-utilised and is not addressing stigma while having a good work-life balance is the top trait they admire in their peers, and their top consideration when choosing a new employer. Subsequently, the survey recommended building cultures where mental health is openly discussed, and where people are encouraged to seek adequate support, enabling people to achieve their work/life balance aspirations, halting and reversing worryingly high levels of burnout and stamping out non-inclusive behaviours.
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