6 ways Gen Z interacts differently with the healthcare system

Compared with older generations, members of Generation Z were more likely to report feeling emotionally distressed during the COVID-19 pandemic but less likely to seek help for their behavioral health challenges, according to a report by management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. 

The report, released Jan. 14, examined consumer surveys and interviews conducted by McKinsey. Some of the data was based on the firm's analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey as of November 2020. Other findings were based on the McKinsey Consumer Behavioral Health Survey conducted in November and December 2020 — a nationally representative survey of about 1,500 responses, including an oversample of Gen Z respondents. Other findings from the report are from the McKinsey Consumer Health Insights Survey, conducted in June 2021 — a nationally representative survey of about 2,900 responses, including 316 Gen Z responses.

Six findings from the report:

1. One-fourth of Gen Z respondents reported feeling more emotionally distressed amid the pandemic, compared to millennials/Gen X (13 percent) and baby boomers (8 percent).

2. More than half (58 percent) of Gen Z reported two or more unmet social needs, including income, employment, education, food, housing, transportation, social support and safety. This compared with 16 percent of people from older generations.

3. Gen Z members are1.6 to 1.8 times more likely to report not seeking treatment for a behavioral health condition than millennials.

4. One in four Gen Z respondents said they could not afford mental health services, which had the lowest perceived affordability of services surveyed, including health insurance and housing.

5. Compared with older generations, Gen Z respondents were one to four times more likely to report using the emergency room, and two to three times more likely to report using crisis services or behavioral health urgent care in the past 12 months. 

6. To manage behavioral health challenges, many Gen Zers indicated they first go to TikTok or Reddit for advice from other young people; they also reported following therapists on Instagram or downloading relevant apps.


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