Over 50% of Gen Z in the world suffer from poor mental health
While the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on mind health across society, individuals in the Generation Z (Gen Z) demographic (aged 18-24) appears to be taking the brunt of the impact, with more than half of Gen Z globally (54 per cent) and in Asia (51 per cent) experiencing challenges with their mental health, reveals findings from the annual AXA Study of Mind Health and Wellbeing 2023 as part of the “Our Time to Flourish” campaign.
The research found that Gen Z have the highest proportion of those struggling (associated with emotional stress and psychosocial impairment) at 18 per cent globally and 14 per cent in Asia, more than any other age group.
Globally, only 13 per cent of young people aged 18-24 are flourishing at the pinnacle of mind health, with the proportion being 15 per cent in Asia, both the lowest across all age groups. This makes 18-24 the only age group globally that has more people struggling than flourishing.
The survey identifies specific challenges they face in today’s workplace, while also highlighting the need for employers to explore tailored support to address a potential surge in turnover in young talent.
Gen Z show greater ability to work under stress, though most likely to resign
In Asia’s workplaces, the survey reveals that Gen Z talent are affected by several key challenges that pose a potential threat to their mind health.
These include uncertainty about the future (69 per cent vs 59 per cent globally), struggling to separate work life and non-work life (49 per cent vs 39 per cent globally), finding it hard to keep up with the pace of change at work (47 per cent vs 38 per cent globally), and a lack of job-skill fit (56 per cent vs 64 per cent globally).
The last factor has a very strong correlation with mental wellbeing, as those that have the right job skill fit are 2.5 times more likely to perform their best according to the research.
The results also show that the 18-24 age group in Asia has the highest percentage of people who intend to resign in the next 12 months (21 per cent ). Yet the survey found a clear indication that those in the 18-24 age group who are flourishing are less likely to resign, with the rate being only 16 per cent, highlighting the importance of effectively enabling positive mental health in supporting employee retention.
Workplace mental health support crucial for overall mental wellbeing
Support for mental health in the workplace has risen up the agenda during the pandemic. As per the research in Asia, companies that provide mind health support are 2.5 times more likely to have employees that are flourishing.
In particular, while 1 in 4 Gen Z employees who feel they are getting good mind health support at work are flourishing, the rate is only 1 in 100 among those that do not see such support, which is the biggest difference among all age groups. This indicates mind health support in the workplace also has the greatest impact on the mental wellbeing of Gen Z, making this group a priority target for such solutions.
“While mind health has rightly attracted greater attention in the wake of the pandemic’s disruption on our lives, these findings emphasise that the next generation of talent across Asia are facing severe challenges. Companies need to examine how they can make a tangible difference with support relevant to the needs of their Gen Z employees, not only to help with productivity and retention, but to tackle this urgent issue affecting societies across the region,” said Gordon Watson, CEO of AXA Asia and Africa said.
Asia's mental health is improving, and stigma is reducing
The proportion of people flourishing in Asia climbed from 19 per cent to 22 per cent, with Asia seeing a bigger rise than the global average. By contrast, the proportion of those struggling in Asia fell to 12 per cent, a year-on-year decrease of 2 per cent. This speaks to improving mental wellbeing across the board.
In addition, 36% of respondents globally agree that stigma related to mental health is declining, compared to 31 per cent last year.
The findings show that 25 per cent of people globally are flourishing, with Thailand (37 per cent), a new entrant this year, topping the list and Italy (18 per cent) showing the lowest level.
A closer look at Asian countries and territories in the survey finds that the Philippines had the largest proportion globally of people getting by, at 39 per cent, followed by Hong Kong at 37 per cent. Across the region, the largest proportion of languishing and struggling were both in Japan, at 31 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.