Throughout the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of locked-down individuals had to cope with seemingly endless months of isolation from relatives, friends, and coworkers. This lack of social interaction, along with fears of contracting the COVID-19 virus, caused heightened anxiety and stress among much of the world’s population. Recognizing the importance of supporting mental health and wellbeing initiatives during this unprecedented time, the social livestreaming app Yubo became a beacon for many Gen Z users.
Unlike other social apps, Yubo is not performance-based and gives Gen Z a space to interact without the pressure of “likes” and “follows.” It’s somewhere they can be themselves and without comparison to others, which protects them from the many harms of social media on young people’s mental health. Read on below for how the app helped Gen Z navigate complex mental health and wellbeing challenges throughout the pandemic.
Gen Zers Faced Heightened Wellbeing Challenges During Pandemic
In January 2022, respected management consulting firm McKinsey and Company compiled the results of interviews and surveys with United States consumers. Nearly two years after the pandemic began, every generation continues to experience some degree of reduced social and emotional wellbeing.
However, Gen Zers have reported higher rates of distress, anxiety, and depression than other age groups. This cohort, ranging from middle school students to young professionals, has been especially hard hit by the pandemic’s negative mental health effects. One in four Gen Z survey respondents said they felt emotionally distressed, almost twice the number of Gen X and Millennial respondents who reportedly felt that way.
Associated Press-NORC Center Poll Sees Similar Results
In September 2021, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll surveyed 3,764 people from ages 13-56. This poll’s results mirrored those of McKinsey and Company’s poll.
Compared to Millennial and Generation X survey respondents, a higher number of 13-24-aged Americans reported that the pandemic has made it harder to achieve their career and educational goals. In addition, almost half of the Gen Z respondents said they were finding it difficult to maintain friendships and romantic relationships. This number was also higher than the Millennial and Gen X respondents’ figures.
The American Psychological Association (or APA) also weighed in on the pandemic’s generational effects. In 2021, the APA reported that Gen Z adults were the most likely generation to have difficulty making key life decisions during the pandemic.
United Nations Launches “World Mental Health Day” Initiative
In 1992, the United Nations (or UN) debuted its UN System Workplace Mental Health and Well-being Strategy. The global organization created this initiative to promote its workers’ improved mental health and general wellbeing. To focus its efforts, the UN established a one-day event called World Mental Health Day.
Celebrated on October 10, World Mental Health Day was also designed to serve as a springboard for global health and wellness conversations and activities. In fact, the United Nations’ annual initiative extends throughout the month of October.
Since the UN’s program began, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of people to experience compromised mental health and wellbeing. Recognizing the need for global action, the October 2021 World Mental Health Day event was titled “Mental Health in an Unequal World.”
This landmark event promoted awareness and action to help facilitate at-risk populations’ improved mental health. Organizations across the world sponsored their own activities around this unified theme.
Yubo Supports Its Community on World Mental Health Day
On October 10, 2021, Yubo supported its base of 60 million users by sponsoring its own World Mental Health Day program of activities. As a backdrop, Yubo emphasized its support for the UNICEF-sponsored initiative to “continue engaging young people, their caregivers, and their communities in judgment-free conversations about mental health.” Yubo strongly supports this effort and encourages its community of users to share their mental health-related thoughts, struggles, and accomplishments on the platform.
Why Open and Honest Dialogue is Important
Dr. Richard Graham, Consultant Psychiatrist, and Yubo Safety Board member, weighed in on the need for honest dialogue. He said young people should be encouraged to express their feelings during the pandemic’s uncertainty.
“At a time when young people should have had the freedom to explore who they are, doing whatever it is that they enjoy and gaining skills for the future, their lives were put on hold for many uncertain months. As everyone around them also seemed super-stressed, it was even harder to be open about how they were feeling. For some, this led to increased feelings of anxiety, stress, and low mood.
“World Mental Health Day is an excellent opportunity to remind the Yubo community that it’s OK to express how you’re feeling and also feel it is your right to ask for support,” he emphasizes.
Yubo’s World Mental Health Day Activities
To complement the UN’s month-long World Mental Health Day activities, Yubo held its own slate of events during October 2021. The series included a coach-led meditation session and a bedtime-focused relaxation story session.
Yubo also partnered with local mental health organizations to run in-app awareness initiatives in Yubo’s primary user territories. Through these efforts, users were encouraged to take advantage of mental health resources and support networks.
Annie Mullins OBE, Yubo Safety Advisor, emphasizes the importance of these affirming activities. “With young people turning to their digital spaces more and more, it’s vital that Yubo promotes national awareness days such as #WMHD but, more importantly, that self-care and supporting others is encouraged all year round,” she emphasizes.
Yubo Promotes Ongoing Self-care Activities
Of course, it’s challenging to engage with the world unless one has a healthy dose of self-love. Yubo sought to understand its users’ feelings on their relationships with themselves. The team surveyed more than 35,000 13 to 25-year-old users across the globe.
More than one-fifth of Yubo users said cultivating a good internal relationship, rather than one with a partner, was most important. Gen Zers also felt that maintaining a good self-care routine was important. Specifically, maintaining a workout schedule and getting extra sleep ranked high on the list of Gen Zers’ priorities. Chatting with or (when possible) spending time with family and friends was also important. Besides increasing their water intake, Gen Zers also cited the value of a shopping expedition.
Yubo Encourages Users’ Mental Health Conversations
Yubo continues to place a strong emphasis on supporting its users’ mental health and wellbeing. Yubo encourages ongoing mental health-focused conversations on its global platform. For example, a popular live stream concept on Yubo is the “Ranting Lives”, where the app gives its users the space to rant about various issues and troubles they may be facing and connect with others who may be going through the same. Yubo continuously provides resources and creates initiatives to help work towards the goal of supporting Gen Z and their mental health.