Navigating the mental health crisis among Gen Z in the workplace

by Time Doctor
Gen Z mental health crisis

The newest generation of workers, known as Generation Z, are facing a mental health crisis that jeopardizes not only their chances in the fiercely competitive job market but also their well-being in an era of unparalleled challenges. This epidemic is changing workplace relations and upending long-held beliefs about worker health and productivity, especially as it disproportionately affects young women. Here, we examine the main conclusions and ramifications of current studies on this urgent problem.

The rising tide of mental health disorders

The Resolution Foundation (RF) has conducted research that reveals a worrying trend: a major rise from the 24% documented two decades ago, over a third of young people in the U.K. between the ages of 18 and 24 are coping with common mental illnesses (CMDs) such depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

Two out of every five young women report experiencing mental illness, highlighting the gender gap in mental health.

Key statistics

  • 33% of young people aged 18 to 24 suffer from CMDs.
  • 40% of young women in the U.K. report experiencing a CMD.

Workplace impact: A generational divide

The workplace is not immune to the impacts of the growing mental health epidemic. According to RF’s study, there is a concerning trend: young people now are twice as likely as they were ten years ago to take time off work owing to illness, resulting in a new generational difference.

This change has an impact on people’s career paths in addition to having wider economic ramifications. It is estimated that the British economy loses £138 billion ($176 billion) a year due to the poor mental health of Gen X and millennial workers.

Key points

  • Young people are now more likely to miss work due to illness than those 20 years older.
  • More than a third of Gen Z employees report being unproductive, attributed to communication gaps with older managers.
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Universities: The epicenter of the crisis

The research also points to universities as hubs for mental health issues, with three out of five students battling a mental health disorder. This situation presents a paradox: while a college education is crucial for securing higher-paying jobs, it also potentially jeopardizes students’ mental health, posing a significant challenge for young people striving for academic and professional success.

Educational strain

  • 60% of students live with a mental health disorder.
  • Universities are becoming increasingly recognized as “hotbeds” for mental health problems.

Gen Z women: At the forefront of the crisis

The far greater effect that the mental health crisis is having on young women is noteworthy; compared to their male counterparts, they are now 1.6 times more likely to take time off work owing to illness. This change has been partially ascribed to the rise of smartphones, which are associated with a decline in mental health, especially among adolescent females who are getting close to college age.

Gender dynamics

  • Young women are 1.6 times more likely to take time off work due to ill health compared to men.
  • Nearly a third of females ages 17–19 report a probable mental disorder.

Towards a solution: The role of mental-health aware management

Addressing this crisis requires concerted efforts across various sectors. The RF emphasizes the importance of employing mental-health aware managers who can foster supportive work environments and mitigate the negative outcomes associated with poor mental health. Such initiatives are crucial for not only improving the well-being of young employees but also for enhancing productivity and economic prosperity.

Actionable steps

  • Spearhead initiatives to hire and train mental-health aware managers.
  • Foster a supportive and inclusive workplace culture that recognizes and addresses mental health challenges.


The mental health crisis among Gen Z, particularly among young women, presents a multifaceted challenge with profound implications for individuals, workplaces, and the broader economy.

As we navigate this complex landscape, it is imperative that employers, educators, and policymakers collaborate to implement comprehensive strategies that address the root causes of this crisis and support the well-being and career aspirations of the youngest members of the workforce.

By fostering a culture of understanding and support, we can pave the way for a healthier, more productive future for all.

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