Rahul Sachitanand
Oct 12, 2020

APAC's Gen Z faces mental health crisis as they struggle to manage pandemic blowback

Economic and lifestyle impacts from COVID-19 are taking a severe mental toll on this group, according to research from Sandpiper Communications.

APAC's Gen Z faces mental health crisis as they struggle to manage pandemic blowback

Asia's Gen Z is facing rising levels of mental distress, but is struggling to cope and talk about this facet of their lives, a new report from communications agency Sandpiper Communications has revealed. Titled The Brave Face of Gen Z, this report shows that 73% of Gen Zs across APAC are experiencing elevated stress levels due to COVID-19, and 57% say their mental health has worsened.

Additionally, nearly four in five (79%) face overwhelming stress monthly or more frequently, with 28% experiencing this weekly and 11% daily. When looking at stress for Gen Z across APAC, family pressures (65%) followed by career pressures (48%) and relationships with friends (41%) rank highest.


The study finds the economic and lifestyle impacts of COVID-19 have had a more negative effect on the mental health and wellbeing of Gen Z than health-related ones. The study is based on a survey of 1,226 Gen Zs (aged 18 to 24 years) in Australia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Despite these looming mental health crisis in APAC, the report shows only 41% of Gen Zs across APAC are comfortable talking about their mental health. 'As we mark World Mental Health Day, it’s important we understand how the pandemic is affecting them and what opportunities exist for better communication and support," says Emma Smith, CEO of Sandpiper. "It is concerning that despite Gen Zs suffering increased mental health and wellbeing pressures during COVID-19, they still struggle to talk about these issues."


Meanwhile, during a crisis, having access to social media has been more of bane than a blessing for Gen Z. Across all markets, while nearly one quarter (24%) say social media has helped their mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19, over one third (34%) feel it has had a negative influence. 

Of those who believe social media has had a positive impact, 69% attribute this to being able to connect with family and friends. Two in three (66%) feel social media has been a source of distraction to pass time, with 66% citing increased boredom during COVID-19.


However, the influx of negative stories (61%) on social platforms is also the biggest reason Gen Z in APAC cite for believing social media access has negatively affected them. Additionally, of those who feel negatively, close to half (48%) across APAC say the lack of real connection with friends and loved ones has in fact worsened their mental health and wellbeing.

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