Springtide Research Institute recently released their annual State of Religion and Young People report. The focus this year was on the mental health of young people ages 13 to 25. In this research study, 47% of young people say they are moderately or extremely depressed; 55% of young people say they are moderately or extremely anxious; and 57% of young people say they are moderately or extremely stressed. This study, like others, confirms that Gen Z is in the midst of a mental health crisis. So, what can we do to support them?
In the report, Springtide identifies three important qualities to help support the mental health of young people in our organizations, churches, and teams:
1). Connection. Strong connections result in a sense of belonging, and belonging correlates with mental wellness. Belonging often occurs when young people understand that they are noticed, valued, and known by the people around them. When we create environments, activities, and interactions that help facilitate meaningful connections and relationships, we help support mental wellbeing for young people around us.
2). Expectations. Expectations are the standards that young people feel they need to meet or exceed in order to be accepted. If expectations feel unachievable, unclear, or unfair, young people can become discouraged, and their mental health can suffer. Providing tools, mentoring, and encouragement can help young people navigate expectations in ways that result in success and fulfillment.
3). Purpose. Feeling connected to something or someone greater than oneself can create a sense of purpose that supports mental wellbeing. Sometimes young people need mentoring or coaching to help them connect what they are doing or their plans for the future to a greater purpose.
For more on how to support the mental health of Gen Zers in your life in 2023, check out this month's episode of The Leading Tomorrow Podcast, or get a copy of Springtide's most recent report.
Dr. Jolene Erlacher is a wife, mommy, author, speaker, college instructor and coffee drinker who is passionate about empowering the next generation of leaders for effective service!