There's a profound link between human connection and well-being, a truth supported by extensive research. For Gen Z, a demographic born into a world of technology, this need for connection takes shape both online and in person.
Discord is driven by a genuine commitment to putting users first. In this increasingly interconnected reality, platforms like Discord play a pivotal role in supporting the mental health of their users. We pride ourselves on creating a space that is positive, inclusive, and supportive. We don't rely on ads or algorithmic news feeds to generate revenue. This allows us to offer an experience centered on users finding common ground and building strong, supportive friendships. Discord has become a hub where individuals globally, can come together and connect authentically.
However, we are aware of the challenges that young people, particularly Gen Z, are facing. Research indicates that the mental health of Gen Z has declined over recent years, something which has been compounded by a variety of societal pressures and personal concerns. As so many of our users are part of this generation, platforms like ours should strive to better understand these users’ mental well-being.
In May 2023, we conducted a study on this topic in the US, which you can read here. To gain insights into the challenges faced across the pond by our users in France, Germany, and the UK, we carried out a similar comprehensive study in partnership with YouGov. This study surveyed over 3,000 members of Gen Z (aged 18 to 25) and more than 1,600 of their parents across these three countries, with the aim of better understanding the context in which our users live and explore how online platforms can contribute to addressing mental health challenges.
Here’s what we found:
- A perception disconnect exists in our European markets: while parents believe that their Gen Z children (aged between 18 to 25) feel predominantly positive, Gen Zers describe three of their top four emotional states as negative.
- Stress and anxiety are the top emotions felt by Gen Zers, outweighing feelings of love, happiness and hope. This was most pronounced in the UK, where 74% felt this way compared with 57% in France and 48% in Germany — a trend echoing what Gen Zers in the US feel.
- Both Gen Zers and their parents across the UK, Germany and France listed the same issues as their top three concerns: the cost of living crisis, climate change, and social inequity.
- The impact of societal pressures on Europe’s Gen Z is a growing unease and uncertainty about their careers, finances, and the future.
- Nearly 30% of Gen Zers in both Europe and the US are still hesitant to ask for help, highlighting embarrassment to seek mental health support as a widespread and global barrier of concern.
- 76% of Gen Zers across the UK, Germany and France could not name an online resource for mental health support when prompted. Awareness is clearly a barrier, but the main obstacle is cost, according to two in five of them.
In short, Gen Zers in the UK, France and Germany are facing a unique set of challenges in today’s landscape. Living in a digitally interconnected world, they are navigating unparalleled connectivity, yet still feel isolated and alone. And this has translated into an overwhelming sense of uncertainty, where Gen Zers feel stressed and frustrated — a concerning trend that seems to have endured over the past six months, and even as far back as two years.
But there is a way forward, and Gen Zers are open to help. We also found:
- Four in five Gen Zers say that seeking mental health support is brave, not weak, signaling they are open to it.
- Support must be tackled collaboratively. A substantial 89% of Gen Zers believe their parents have the biggest role to play in supporting their mental health, followed by healthcare systems and educational institutions.
- There is an opportunity for educational institutions to boost awareness around healthy online practices to amplify positive experiences. This is a belief held by 40% of Gen Zers, who acknowledge the potential negative impact that online communications platforms can have in their life, for example, on cannibalizing time spent with family and friends in the real world.
- If the necessary mental health resources are in place for users, online platforms can continue to offer safe spaces for users to connect and share thoughts with like-minded others. A quarter of Gen Zers feel like they aren’t alone in their mental health struggles when they’re part of an online group.
Discord is working to give people the power to create space to find belonging in their lives. This is essential to having authentic connections and meaningful conversations, which can help us all feel less alone, offer guidance when in need, or let our servers and conversations be a place to share and support one another. Finding a group of like-minded people who are navigating similar challenges can be incredibly helpful for healing and maintaining your mental health. Most importantly, we believe it is crucial that online platforms maintain an active voice in ongoing conversations about mental health.
The past few years have presented significant challenges for Gen Z, and it's not unexpected that sentiments of stress, anxiety, anger and loneliness are prevalent. Our study aims to initiate a broader conversation about overcoming these challenges, bringing together various stakeholders — including online platforms like Discord — to foster open dialogues on how to best support young people across Europe. Parents, educators, policymakers, and industry alike must rally to rectify the plight young people currently face, and collaboration is demanded of all of us.
Our joint efforts will not only help reshape negative stereotypes and stigmas surrounding mental health but also redefine societal norms and remove barriers to accessing information and care. It will take all of us working together to bridge the gap between awareness and action and ensure that Gen Z does not face these challenges alone.
Click below to read the full white paper, “Gen Z Mental Health: Empowering Conversation in an Uncertain World”: