AXA Mind Health Index reveals more than half of Gen Z in Asia are suffering from poor mental health, affecting their professional lives
According to a study by leading insurance provider AXA, the Filipino respondents in the 18- to 24-year-old bracket that admitted going through bouts of depression and anxiety were higher than global numbers. In the Philippines, responses for depression kick in at 35% (vs. 27% globally) while anxiety is at 16% (12% globally). While the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on mind health across society, the latest findings from the annual AXA Study of Mind Health and Wellbeing 2023 has revealed that Gen Z (aged 18-24) appears to be taking the brunt of the impact, with more than half of Gen Z globally (54%) and in Asia (51%) experiencing poor mental health. The Survey identifies specific challenges they face in today’s workplace, while also highlighting the need for employers to explore tailored support to address a potential surge in turnover in young talent.
The research found that Gen Z have the highest proportion of those struggling (associated with emotional stress and psychosocial impairment) at 18% globally and 14% in Asia, more than any other age group. Globally, only 13% of young people aged 18-24 are flourishing at the pinnacle of mind health, with the proportion being 15% in Asia, both the lowest across all age groups. This makes 18-24 the only age group globally that has more people struggling than flourishing.
Gen Z show greater ability to work under stress, though most likely to resign
In Asia’s workplaces, the survey reveals that Gen Z talent are affected by several key challenges that pose a potential threat to their mind health. These include uncertainty about the future (69% vs 59% globally), struggling to separate work life and non-work life (49% vs 39% globally), finding it hard to keep up with the pace of change at work (47% vs 38% globally), and a lack of job-skill fit (14% vs 9% globally). This last factor has a very strong correlation with mental wellbeing, as those that have the right job skill fit are 2.5 times more likely to perform their best according to the research.
The results also show that the 18-24 age group in Asia has the highest percentage of people who intend to resign in the next 12 months (21%). Yet the survey found a clear indication that those in the 18-24 age group who are flourishing are less likely to resign, with the rate being only 16%, highlighting the importance of effectively enabling positive mental health in supporting employee retention.
Workplace mental health support plays a vital role in overall mental wellbeing
Support for mental health in the workplace has risen up the agenda during the pandemic. The research also reveals that in Asia, companies that provide mind health support are 2.5 times more likely to have employees that are flourishing. In particular, while 1 in 4 Gen Z employees who feel they are getting good mind health support at work are flourishing, the rate is only 1 in 100 among those that do not see such support, which is the biggest difference among all age groups. This indicates mind health support in the workplace also has the greatest impact on the mental wellbeing of Gen Z, making this group a priority target for such solutions.
Gordon Watson, CEO of AXA Asia and Africa said, “While mind health has rightly attracted greater attention in the wake of the pandemic’s disruption on our lives, these findings emphasise that the next generation of talent across Asia are facing severe challenges. Companies need to examine how they can make a tangible difference with support relevant to the needs of their Gen Z employees, not only to help with productivity and retention, but to tackle this urgent issue affecting societies across the region.”
Bernardo Serrano Lopez, AXA Philippines President and Chief Executive Officer, adds, “While we see a considerable improvement in mind health globally, this does not mean that we can just sit back and simply let things run its course. The insights from this study helps organizational leaders and people managers steer their initiatives to better benefit our employees’ physical and mental health. At AXA, we take pride in consistently supporting programs that promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. And we take these learnings to continue evolving our programs to better suit our employees’ needs and to further our vision to become a company where they are #FitToFlourish.”
Overall people in Asia are getting mentally healthier, believe that stigma is declining
Despite this concern, the research found that the proportion of people flourishing in Asia climbed from 19% to 22%, with Asia seeing a bigger rise than the global average. By contrast, the proportion of those struggling in Asia fell to 12%, a year-on-year decrease of 2%. This speaks to improving mental wellbeing across the board. In addition, 36% of respondents globally agree that stigma related to mental health is declining, compared to 31% last year.
The findings show that 25% of people globally are flourishing, with Thailand (37%), a new entrant this year, topping the list and Italy (18%) showing the lowest level. A closer look at Asian countries and territories in the survey finds that the Philippines had the largest proportion globally of people getting by, at 39%, followed by Hong Kong at 37%. Across the region, the largest proportion of languishing and struggling were both in Japan, at 31% and 14% respectively.
Access the AXA Study of Mind Health and Wellbeing 2023 at axafittoflourish.com.