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Nicholas Addison Thomas

Director of Content Marketing, National Council for Behavioral Health

Managing Your Mental Health – A Gen-Z Perspective

April 20, 2020 | COVID-19 | Population Health | Youth | Comments
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COVID-19 affects us all differently. While there’s no escaping the impacts of this novel coronavirus, it does afford us an opportunity to learn more about its repercussions on different populations. We sat down to talk with Jazmin Carpenter, 22, a CONNECTED youth influencer and recent college graduate, to get her thoughts on how the pandemic has impacted her.

What’s it like being a Gen-Zer during this pandemic?

“It’s weird! I would say from my perspective, it’s easier, considering I’m part of a significantly lower-risk population than those who are older or possess other health issues. I can also stay connected with friends and family via the internet, and I know that may be more difficult for older generations who aren’t as familiar with technology. On the other hand, I’ve never seen something like this before. I just recently graduated, so I haven’t had much time to be in the ‘real world’ before things began to change.”

How has COVID-19 impacted your mental and emotional well-being?

“I feel like I’m in some sort of weird limbo where my daily life isn’t too affected, but I’m aware of what else is happening in the world. It’s scary and hard to wrap my head around. Coping with this sudden and unknown change is difficult, as is visualizing what this will mean for the long-term future. Plus, I work in emergency management, so I am seeing the front-line efforts to combat this virus in my area, and it can be a bit overwhelming.”

Do you feel like you’re getting the support you need?

“I believe I am. I think people should know that many people my age are struggling in very unique ways right now. I am privileged to be able to keep my job, but I know others are being let go while still trying to pay off their student loans or obligated to work in less-safe conditions. In my age group, there’s a feeling that we need to ‘start getting it all together,’ but that, in a way, is paused because of COVID-19, and people may be retreating into themselves. My advice to parents and others: Reach out to them – it will do more good than harm!”

How is the CONNECTED program helping you during this time?

“It’s been lovely seeing a program adapt – with so much compassion and respect – to the different experiences within this group of youth influencers. Getting to hear from others has been inspiring and is a great motivator. It’s also nice to hear from my peers in a meaningful way.”

What are you doing to keep your mental health strong at this time?

“I’m using this extra time to stay productive in more personal ways. I meet with a new therapist weekly over video chat, and I’ve been organizing stuff that I’ve been putting off in my apartment. I’ve also been trying out new meal recipes, and I’m spending a lot of quality time with my kitty, Maple, and my partner that I live with. I’ve also been playing the new Animal Crossing game, which has been really fun. When I have enough energy, I’ll take a walk outside and explore my neighborhood a bit more. I just got a new bike, so I’ve tried out a couple rides around my area.”

Managing your behavioral health is critical, especially during this pandemic. Have any tips you can share with your peers?

“Don’t set your expectations for yourself super high at this time. It is okay if you are just getting through each day! To keep your mind a bit uplifted, step outside, even if it’s just for a few minutes, or try to do some art, cook a meal or complete a task that will make you feel somewhat productive and present. And try to keep in touch with your loved ones! They need you and you need them.”

To reduce the impact of anxiety, depression and suicide among under-served youth ages 10 to 24, the National Council, in partnership with Change Matrix, Relias, Watauga Consulting, Youth MOVE National and MPHI, launched CONNECTED, a groundbreaking two-year initiative. Learn more.