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Gen Z: Post-COVID Mental Health Struggles

post covid mental stress for Gen Z

As the specter of COVID-19 begins to recede, a new crisis is emerging among Generation Z individuals, particularly those in the workforce, as they grapple with heightened stress levels. Reports suggest that a combination of factors, including the return to office, performance pressure, and economic uncertainties, are fueling anxiety and depression among this demographic.

A crisis unfolding

Counselors and mental health experts have noted a significant uptick in mental health concerns among Gen Z., a mental health consultant, reported a 20-30% increase in individuals in their 20s and 30s seeking counseling in 2023 compared to the previous year. Similarly, Amaha, a mental health service provider, revealed that nearly 70% of over 10,000 people seeking counseling support were young working professionals aged 22-35.

The stressors identified by these professionals are multifaceted. Job insecurity, the integration of artificial intelligence in the workplace, economic downturns, and layoffs in certain sectors contribute to the mounting pressure. Ashish Ambasta, CEO of HappyPlus Consulting, noted that 45-50% of young professionals in the 25-35 age range reported stress in 2023, surpassing the stress levels reported by individuals in the 35-50 age group.

Common complaints include sleeplessness, fatigue, anxiety, a sense of emptiness, loneliness, and relationship problems. Many individuals are experiencing extreme distress and depression, reaching a point where they feel overwhelmed and unable to cope on their own.

The shift back to office environments has exacerbated the situation, with concerns such as the lack of bonding, fear of job loss, and loneliness in large cities topping the list. For those in the tech and new-age sectors, who have been working remotely for the past two years, the return to the office has induced feelings of uprootedness and isolation.

Compounding these challenges is the financial burden faced by young professionals who have returned to their base stations with little increase in salary levels. The inability to disconnect from work, coupled with the constant pressure of being “switched on” 24×7, has taken a toll on their mental well-being.

Positive steps to alleviate stress

In response to this growing crisis, some companies, including Mphasis, Deloitte, L&T, and Merck, are taking proactive steps to address mental health concerns among their employees. Initiatives range from specialized training sessions to refreshment of employee well-being programs, offering confidential counseling services, promoting well-being leave, and creating mental health champions within the workforce. These efforts aim to normalize conversations around mental health and provide essential support to the younger workforce grappling with unprecedented challenges in the post-pandemic era.

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