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‘Generation Z’ Speak Up for Post-Pandemic Mental Health Support From Employers

If there is anything positive that came out of 2020, it is the increase in mental health awareness. People are speaking out and having more of an open dialogue regarding their experiences and needs during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is especially true within our standard college-age students. In other words, students who are working amid this pandemic are becoming more transparent regarding the state of their mental and emotional stability. According to a survey conducted by Handshake — the leading early-career community in the United States — about 50% of all students, when asked, desired employers to invest more in employees’ mental health; this could range from online therapy, free or subsidized mediation services, etc., especially if expected to work remotely.

Handshake was created to ensure that all college students have equal access to meaningful careers after college. They assist students with finding jobs and internships by partnering with over a thousand universities and colleges to help connect 500,000 employers on their network with their 17 million students and alumni. Due to working closely with students, Handshake was able to survey around 1,003 college students between the ages of 17-24 years old using Propeller Insight. Their data shined a light on the demands and needs of many employed young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are four crucial impacts the survey outlined;

1. Concerns with working remotely.

A 52.8% majority of students reported that their biggest concern with making this shift to working remotely is feeling isolated. This was followed by a lack of work/life balance (49.8%), which shows that this digitally native generation still needs guidance with how to go about this new form of work.

2. Mental health is the next big benefit.

More than half (62.5%) of students feel that it’s “important” to “very important” when asked if their future employer provides mental health benefits to help employees cope with the aftermath of COVID-19.

3. Students want support from employers.

When asking students which mental health benefits they expect from employers, nearly half (46.7%) said HR policies supporting non-discrimination around mental health issues, while more than a third (35.3%) said free or subsidized meditation services/programs.

4. Financial insecurity due to the pandemic.

The majority of students (51.1%) have expressed concern about remote work impacting their mental health. A lot of their fears are tied to potential financial instability due to the pandemic. Almost half (49.1%) of students have had increased anxiety due to the uncertainty of the economic climate due to the coronavirus. Financial needs weigh heavily, especially on underrepresented students who have student loans that they or their parents need to pay.

These insights prove the importance of listening to the Generation Z and their needs during this time. As they work from home and express the tools that can guide them in excelling, it is up to employers to invest in our future leaders, and that includes their mental health and financial security.

While speaking with Christine Cruzvergara, VP of Higher Education and Student Success at Handshake, she explained that: “Students are not shying away from the changes happening. They are more aware of themselves and more aware of what they are hoping their employers will contribute to as well, which is an important piece about this generation.” In the midst the pandemic, working virtually, attending to personal life and much more, there are two crucial tips Mrs. Cruzvergara shared for students to maintain balance:

1. Start with yourself.

Identify the things you need in your life to feel fulfilled. That may be watching TV, going for a jog, spending time with family, etc. When you are aware of what those things are, you can be more effective in carving out time and space for yourself within your busy day. If you do not know what you need, you will not know what to ask for.

2. You are not alone.

This year, everyone is having a difficult time in some capacity in adjusting or making sense of the current circumstances. As alone as you may feel, know that you are not.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash