The unlikely place young workers fight mental-health taboos

It makes sense that Gen Z would pick up the ball from millennials and run with it, as both have been shaped by global crises. Both the 2008 recession and 9/11 greatly impacted millennials experiences, and experts expect Gen Z will be similarly marked by the coronavirus. Hibbs and Strohschein suggest that these crises have lowered the sense of risk in Gen Z, and heightened their interest in de-stigmatising discussion around barriers that hold them back, including mental health.

What’s the risk?

There is, of course, inherent professional risk around such vocalisation. Research shows that many employees, especially of older generations, withhold disclosure of mental-health struggles; some also express worry about their viability as a job candidate or fear workplace stigmatisation if they’re seen as emotionally unstable or vulnerable.

However, Selwood says he’s not worried about the risks – and research suggests he’s not the only member of Gen Z who agrees.

The support and validation Selwood has received from strangers and family alike has made him less afraid of repercussions, including at work. “If, for instance, my boss sends me, ‘Oh, I’ve just seen your TikTok, for the clients, would you mind not posting about [it]?’ I’d literally be like, ‘No…’ It would be like someone expressing their love for the LGBTQ community and your boss telling you, ‘Can you please not talk about that, because I don’t think it’s appropriate?’ It is appropriate, because it is a fact of life. Everyone has mental health, just like we have physical health,” says Selwood.

But he acknowledges not everyone can operate from that mentality. Selwood works with social-media influencers for his day job, and says he has full support from his colleagues and clients alike for his content. “My colleagues have always been extremely supportive. But I understand that, obviously, in some jobs you need to be careful with what you post,” he says.