While stigma keeps many Americans from seeking mental health services, Generation Z employees have been most likely to embrace such help during the coronavirus pandemic.
In fact, 1 in 4 Gen Z employees have sought mental health help since the pandemic began, according to a new report from financial services company MetLife. While that isn’t a majority of employees from that generation, Gen Z workers were three times more likely to seek professional help for mental health reasons than other colleagues during that time frame.
A substantial percentage of employees are feeling emotional pain from the pandemic, as roughly one-third said their mental health isn’t in good shape. Yet, only 1 in 12 have taken advantage of professional help.
Barriers to seeking care
Among those who haven’t reached out for professional help with challenges, more than a third (37%) believe there’s a stigma associated with mental health treatment. A small percentage of employees believe that seeking help could cost them professionally. In fact, nearly 1 in 10 said they feared being discriminated against by managers and co-workers if they were to get support.
Nearly half of Hispanic and Black workers — 47% and 46%, respectively — believed they would be stigmatized if they asked for help from their employer.
Survey respondents cited various factors that contributed to their decline in mental health. Nearly 40% said the decrease in social interactions with family, friends and colleagues has played a role, with 56% of millennials feeling this way.
The increase in employees working remotely may also be leading to an increase in stress, as 34% of respondents said being unable to connect with colleagues in person is one of their top sources of anxiety. Nearly half of Gen Z respondents (47%) felt this way, a finding that aligns with an earlier survey that showed that younger workers were struggling to remain productive while working from home.
Financial worries taking a toll
A recent survey found that economic anxiety is the highest it has been in five years, and the MetLife research shows that workers are feeling the pain. In fact, 70% of employees who said they were stressed provided a financial reason that contributed to it:
- 47% expressed concern with their long-term savings
- 46% were worried about medical and other unexpected expenses
- 46% were concerned about turbulence in the stock market
The survey also showed how financial health can impact the mental and emotional well-being of workers. Respondents with good financial health were more than twice as likely to cite being in a good mental place, compared to respondents with poor financial health.
Methodology: MetLife conducted two surveys in July 2020 at companies with two or more employees. The first was given to 1,000 benefits decision makers and influencers. The second was given to 2,000 full-time employees 21 and older. The generational breakdown among survey respondents was as follows: Generation Z respondents were those between ages 21 and 23; millennials were those between 24 and 37; Generation Xers were those between 38 and 53; and baby boomers were those 54 and older.