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Groups Provide Vital Resources for Gen Z During Mental-Health Crisis

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Thursday, August 17, 2023   

Mental health has emerged as a pressing concern for young individuals belonging to Generation Z, those born after 1996.

A recent study shed light on their heightened emotional distress levels, revealing a significant disparity when compared with their Baby Boomer counterparts.

Jeff Fladen, director of special projects for the National Alliance on Mental illness-Tennessee, said the group works to enhance the lives of those affected by mental illness. He explains they have a new online portal to provide mental health resources for youths and those in Generation Z.

"One of our newest accomplishments was to develop a website called teenmh.org; M H for mental health," Fladen explained. "It's meant to be a safe place for teenagers to learn about mental health, how to get help for themselves, how to help a friend."

Fladen emphasized it is important for Gen Zer's who are employed to have health insurance including mental health care services, noting it is vital to recognize treatment can begin at any age, as more awareness is being directed toward early detection of mental health conditions.

Fladen emphasized the group's "Ending the Silence" school- and faith-based program pairs young adults with a mental health professional and gather in groups to define what is mental illness to try and reduce the stigma.

"Encourage people to be aware of what is anxiety and depression and eating disorders and more severe things like thoughts of suicide and delusions," Fladen outlined. "And what is mental health about, and to kind of demystify it and destigmatize it."

Fladen pointed out Tennessee has school-based mental health social workers and counselors who provide resources and services to children at their schools. Colleges in the Volunteer State also have mental-health clinics and programs for Gen Z college students.

Dr. Donald Tavakoli, national medical director of behavioral health for UnitedHealthcare, said members of Gen Z are just starting to enter the workforce and want health care at their fingertips, including telehealth, easy access to health data and online payment services. He stressed it is important for Gen Z to access their employer health care plan online to review and understand their coverage.

"Signing in to your health plan or calling the number on the back of your ID card," Tavakoli suggested. "They're often advocates that can describe in detail all of your actual benefits in terms of what you're eligible for, including your prescription benefits, that's going to be important for those that are on medications, there's an array of medications for mental health."

Tavakoli added many Gen Z adults, even up to age 26, can maintain coverage on certain plans through their parents' health insurance, giving them some time to transition.

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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