New online program aims to improve mental health of Gen Z in Seattle

Dec 2 2020, 11:40 am

Since the pandemic began, 18 to 34 year-olds have reported the greatest declines in their mental health.

The UW Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behavior has been tracking loneliness since January and noticed increases during the pandemic. They reported that Gen Z adults, those aged 18 to 34, are the most likely to report experiencing common symptoms of depression.

As a way to combat the increasing declines in mental health, UW researchers have created Check in With Yourself, a program providing personalized strategies for managing stress, increasing social support, and addressing alcohol use that may lead to additional risks during the pandemic.

“Using data we have collected from over 2,000 young adults in the local area, the program highlights that the feelings and concerns most young adults have during the pandemic are shared by most other people,” said Christine Lee, a research professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, in a news release.

“As the holidays approach, and as we continue into new restrictions because [of] increasing COVID rates, it is important to be kind to ourselves and check-in with ourselves and loved ones.”

In addition to using the online program, UW acting assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Jennifer Cadigan, is offering the following tips for well-being:

  1. Acknowledge and normalize your emotions during this time, such as feeling scared, anxious, or lonely. You aren’t alone. Many young adults are also feeling lonely and isolated during this time.
  2. If you are feeling lonely, there are things you can do to improve your mood. Stay connected socially. Identify who’s in your social support network and reach out to those people. This could be a text, e-mail, or phone call.
  3. Reflect on the positive things in your life, no matter how big or small. Even if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed during this time, try focusing on one small thing that brings you happiness.
  4. To help manage stress, think of what you can control and then engage in this activity. This could be connecting with others, going for a walk, or doing a hobby.
  5. If you choose to drink:
    * If you do drink alcohol, try to consume no more than three drinks in an occasion.
    * If you’re drinking because you feel stressed, try something else as a “stress-reliever,” like talking with a friend, watching a TV show, or taking a walk.
    * If you’re drinking for social reasons, think about how you can connect with friends in a physically distant way that doesn’t involve alcohol. Maybe a game night, movie night, or another fun, physically distant activity?
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