Is mental health culture promoting self-awareness or a mentally weak generation?
One of the most important and talked-about issues of our generation is mental health. There is no denying the widespread awareness this generation brings to mental health. According to a survey by The Harris Poll, Gen Z is 27 percent more likely to report mental health issues compared to older generations.
On the other hand, what would older generations say about the way Gen Z handles life? Would they see Gen Z as mentally weak and unable to handle everyday stressors or emotionally advanced in mental health?
I believe the increase of mental illness awareness in Gen Z started with the rise of child safety. Growing up, my mother would always say things like, “Things were different when I was younger,” or “The world just isn’t as safe as it used to be.” I think the increase in parents’ safety concerns for their kids has led to a decrease in important interactions, such as working with other kids or solving problems without a parent's intervention, which are necessary for a child’s independence and strength.
The increase of technology in the past couple of years has also led to more teens experiencing anxiety and depression due to users comparing themselves to the people they see on social media.
I think this sense of coddling while growing up and the addition of toxic social media makes our generation mentally weak. While parents shelter their kids from worldly struggles and seemingly normal experiences, they are depriving their children of the opportunity to grow from adversity. Difficult experiences provide people with the optimal atmosphere for learning. These moments help prepare us and make us more confident for the future.
“Trauma creates change you don’t choose,” said award-winning PTSD blogger Michelle Rosenthal. “Healing is about creating change you do choose.”
With the rise of mental health problems and an increase in awareness, Gen Z has become the generation with the highest percentage of people who will reach out for help regarding mental health. Has this increase in conversation allowed for our generation to use it as an excuse in everyday life? People often make jokes surrounding their own mental state. Different words like “I am just depressed,” or “My anxiety does not allow me to do that” are thrown around without consideration for people who actually suffer from these mental problems. Undiagnosed people use phrases like this to excuse themselves from procrastination, laziness and a lack of social interaction.
I believe the attention brought to this topic allows for it to be abused and used as an excuse, but I also believe the awareness we have for mental health now is absolutely necessary. As our world ages, we are faced with different issues to overcome. The knowledge brought to mental health today is an important step towards worldwide prevention and help.
Our generation faces difficulties completely unique to us. The trials we face today are different from what our parents or grandparents faced. Our ability to recognize the differences and act on them is what will allow our generation to form a healthy culture surrounding mental health. We can do this by not abusing the privileges given to us, but by using them to continue to grow closer as a community equipped with the necessary tools for each person to thrive.