Brands need to be doing more to support the mental health of Gen Z, according to new research. The study from Voxburner, the Student Beans Insights Agency, shows that increasing economic uncertainty has led to increased anxiety and stress among those ages 16-25.
Breaking Point: Gen Z’s Mental Health Crisis found 59% of young people said the cost-of-living crisis is having a poor affect on their mental health. And while brands and employers (sadly) can’t do much about the cost-of-living crisis, there are ways they can work to mediate the effect on young consumers.
One of the first steps to this is ensuring the internal audience (aka the workplace) of a brand is supported and prioritised. But brands should leverage their industry knowledge and use it to help those who are struggling.
How brands can help Gen Z and their employees
But there are brands leading by example. Let’s have a look at a couple of examples of brands who are going above and beyond to support Gen Z.
Retailer John Lewis, which employs 74,300 people, offered its staff free meals during the winter of 2022. The initiative ran from October 3, 2022, to January 6, 2023. It was open to all partners as well as those working for the partnership through agencies, such as temporary Christmas staff.
Meals included an English breakfast, vegetarian dishes, pasta, and a Sunday roast. All food was made with Waitrose ingredients where possible. Staff were also offered free tea, coffee, and fruit.
Meanwhile, brands like HSBC looked to support the mental health of Gen Z beyond its workforce. The international banking giant offered customers and non-customers a free financial health check last year.
This is something we know is important to Gen Z – 66% of Voxburner UK respondents said they wanted to improve their financial literacy as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.
So, how did it work? People were encouraged to share some details about their financing (spending, borrowing, and saving) before the bank gave them a financial fitness score.
Why brands should care about Gen Z and mental health
Gen Z are known for their passion on a number of issues, including gender and racial equality, but it’s mental health that is often their number one priority.
Perhaps this is because it interconnects with other topics they feel strongly about. For example, mental health connects to body image issues, which affects well-being and self-worth of young men and women in a variety of ways.
There are also worrying trends that young people from minority groups are not getting access to mental health support, while also facing a greater stigma around speaking out about mental health concerns.
Gen Z are purpose-driven consumers and prefer to engage with brands that stand for something, especially mental health.
What brands can do to support Gen Z
So what can brands do to help support Gen Z with their mental health. Well, tackling mental health is more than about donating money to relevant charities or raising awareness about how to get help – it’s about ensuring that content, campaigns and products that target young people make them feel valued and supported.
For example, Hollister teamed up with TikTok stars including the D’Amelio sisters to combat the stigma around speaking up about mental health concerns. They have also released a product collection to raise money for the Hollister Confidence Project, which distributes funds to nonprofits that support teen mental health, as well as those supporting LGBTQ+ and BIPOC youth communities.
Skincare specialist Dove has been running its self-esteem project since 2004 and has helped 1/4 billion through its educational programmes. Recently its then the project into the virtual world with a Roblox game created to challenge unrealistic beauty ideals.
At work, supermarket chain Iceland offers all of its employees free counselling, as well as an Occupational Health Service, which is designed to give employees a fast diagnosis on any issue that might be holding them back from working effectively.
Free counselling also ranked as the most effective initiative to support Gen Z employees in our UK survey, with Gen Z also campaigning for paid mental health days.