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Learning Guide: Supporting the Mental Well-Being of Gen Z Workers

Learn how employers can create a supportive and mental health-friendly workplace for all workers, including “Gen Z” workers.

The COVID-19 pandemic deepened an ongoing mental health crisis, particularly among young people. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 Household Pulse Survey, nearly half of 18-24-year-olds surveyed reported symptoms of anxiety and depression, and this was true whether or not they were employed.

Members of “Generation Z,” born from 1997-2012, are transitioning into the workplace and bringing a focus on mental health and well-being. Creating a supportive and mental health-friendly workplace for all workers, including “Gen Z” workers, can help employers attract top candidates, retain talented workers, and increase productivity and performance. Employers can position themselves as mental health-friendly workplaces to recruit young talent from historically underserved communities, including those with disabilities.

Organizations across multiple industries can support young workers’ mental well-being through various policy strategies, such as:

  • Promoting open communication to reduce stigma around mental health issues.
  • Offering mental health resources and employee assistance programs (EAPs).
  • Providing flexible work arrangements and time off for mental health needs.
  • Encouraging work-life balance and setting clear boundaries between work and personal life.
  • Providing training for managers to support employees who disclose mental health challenges.
  • Fostering a culture of inclusion and belonging, especially for members of historically underserved communities.

Policy to Practice Quick Tips

Mental health-friendly workplaces benefit all workers. Here are tips for ensuring your workplace policies include support relevant to the mental health and well-being of young workers:

  1. Lead by example. Encourage senior leaders to openly discuss mental health and model a healthy work-life balance. When possible, ensure young workers have opportunities to hear about this directly from senior leaders.
  2. Communicate available resources. Make sure young workers are aware of mental health resources and how to access them. Communicate this information often through channels used by young people.
  3. Normalize mental health conversations. Create a safe space for employees to discuss mental health concerns without fear of stigma or repercussions. Help young workers connect with more senior colleagues who have experience navigating challenging work situations.
  4. Offer flexibility. Ensure all employees can take advantage of flexible work arrangements, including time off policies, to accommodate mental health needs. Help young workers understand how to use flexible work arrangements to ensure work-life balance.
  5. Foster connections. Encourage social support and connections among young workers, particularly in remote or hybrid work environments.
  6. Provide targeted support. Recognize the unique challenges members of historically underserved communities face and offer young workers from these communities tailored support and resources.
  7. Continuously evaluate and improve. Regularly assess the effectiveness of mental health initiatives to ensure they are effective for younger workers and make any necessary adjustments.

Resources to Support Mental Health and Well-Being in the Workplace

EARN Mental Health Resources

EARN Training, Videos, and Research

Job Accommodations

  • Accommodation and Compliance: Mental Health Conditions: This resource from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides information about mental health conditions. It also contains information about accommodations to support success at work for people with mental health conditions. JAN is an ODEP-funded technical assistance center.

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