This shows a young woman in a maze.
There appears to be a common understanding that there is a mental health crisis among young people, but has society understood why? Credit: Neuroscience News

Gen Z’s Mind Maze: Navigating a World of Perceived Extremes

Summary: A new study delves into the mental health crisis among Gen Z.

The study, based on 40 interviews, highlights key risk factors like mass shootings, social media, and climate crisis, impacting young people’s mental well-being. Despite living in a relatively safe era, Gen Z perceives the world in extreme terms of safety or danger, lacking the understanding of risk as a spectrum.

This binary view contributes significantly to the rise in anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies, especially among young girls and women.

Key Facts:

  1. Gen Z perceives risks in binary terms, influenced by factors like social media and global crises.
  2. This perception disparity is contributing to a mental health crisis, with increased anxiety and depression among young people.
  3. Rubin’s research emphasizes the need for messaging that highlights the nuances in risk assessment to mitigate this crisis.

Source: Society for Risk Assessment

There appears to be a common understanding that there is a mental health crisis among young people, but has society understood why?  

As presented at the 2023 Society for Risk Analysis Annual Conference, Gabriel Rubin from Montclair State University conducted 40 interviews with members of Gen Z (as of publication) in an ongoing study about risk factors that have led to the current mental health crisis in young people.

So far, this study has identified risk factors such as mass shootings, school lockdown drills, parental pressure, social media and the climate crisis.  

Despite risk analysis research demonstrating that we live in one of the safest times ever, Gen Z experiences a disparity in risk assessment from their older counterparts, essentially having the perception that risk is everywhere they turn.

One of the major takeaways from the interviews is that members of Gen Z are fed with a constant stream of news alerts that will overemphasize their threat level. Gen Z is presented with a world where risk is black and white: things are safe (safe spaces, e.g.) or contain dangerous risk.

Prior research has demonstrated that risk is not black and white – there are many risks in life and they can be weighed, yet Gen Z members view risk as either the presence or absence of safety in a situation.  

This research has so far revealed that the disparity in risk assessment has led many young people to feel anxious, depressed and even suicidal – especially young girls and women. 

Messaging to Gen Zers needs to emphasize that there is a lot of gray area in risk and in life. Alleviating this crisis is one of the most challenging issues in America today.

This research suggests that young peoples’ inability to understand risk is a critical component of this crisis.  

About this psychology and mental health research news

Author: Natalie Judd
Source: Society for Risk Assessment
Contact: Natalie Judd – Society for Risk Assessment
Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original Research: The findings will be presented at the 2023 Society for Risk Analysis Annual Conference

Join our Newsletter
I agree to have my personal information transferred to AWeber for Neuroscience Newsletter ( more information )
Sign up to receive our recent neuroscience headlines and summaries sent to your email once a day, totally free.
We hate spam and only use your email to contact you about newsletters. You can cancel your subscription any time.