The eco-anxiety trifecta for Gen Z first relates to the fact that children are suffering from generalized anxiety in greater numbers. The National Institutes of Health indicates that 30%of American teens suffer from anxiety. Rates of teen anxiety, depression, and suicide have dramatically increased since 2011.
Second, Gen Z is the loneliest generation. More screen time and less in-person interaction mean a sense of isolation for them, even before the pandemic. In the 2018 Cigna Loneliness Index, Gen Z expressed “feeling like people around them are not really with them (69%), feeling shy (69%), and feeling like no one really knows them well (68%).” Our kids are lonelier than the elderly. In one survey, eight in 10 Gen Zers experienced loneliness compared to five in 10 Baby Boomers. Chronic loneliness can be as damaging to a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, which prompted the United Kingdom to appoint a loneliness minister in 2018.
Third is the hyperawareness of the climate crisis, fueled by sharing news stories and the latest research on social media. Gen Z is asking what the future will look like, where they will live, and what their experience will be like on this planet. In a 2020 survey by the U.S. Conference on Mayors, 80% of Gen Z agrees that “climate change is a major threat to life on earth.” It’s clear that we must act.