Gen Z teens today are 30% more stressed out than millennials were at the same age. According a recent Gallup poll, "Gen Z members note 'thriving' at a 41% rate compared to a 60% rate from millennials. APA CEO, Arthur Evans thinks today's teens may just be more tuned into their mental health. That may be a part of it, but stats from a Zogby poll last year indicate that youth face a lot more stressors too.
- 54% are “aware of someone who has been bullied because of their race, sexual orientation, or income level”
- 58% “personally know someone who has considered self-harm or suicide
- 40% of Gen Z students said they worried a lot or some about gun violence at their school
Even parents are seeing the spike. A RethinkFirst survey noted three-quarters of polled parents observed one or more of these emotions in their child during the last school year." This rate is more than double what was previously reported. Whatever the reason, teens are escalating their problems and letting it be known that stress and anxiety, and overall mental health, is a big concern. So what can be done?
There are several existing models - the 5A's and 5C's are good places to start from a broad level, but many psychologists and therapists gravitate towards variations of the PYD (Positive Youth Development) framework. Here's how it works:
- Assets - help kids build stronger interpersonal skills (get them off their phones)
- Contribution - encourage play and interaction with other teens
- Enabling Environment - actively listen to your teen and create bonding opportunities
- Agency - encourage them and give them a chance to use their voice (figuratively and literally)
We were all teens once. It's a confusing, chaotic and just a weird time of everyone's life. It can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be over-whelming and there are actions that we as friends, parents, teachers and community leaders can take to make a difference.