OAKLAND, Calif., (April 21, 2022) – A significant majority of Gen Z youth (75% nationwide, 80% in California) have experienced a mental health-related issue, such as anxiety, stress, and/or feelings of being overwhelmed as a result of reading, seeing, or hearing news about climate change, according to Blue Shield of California’s second annual NextGen Climate Survey.
Despite these mental health challenges, four out of five youths (81% nationwide, 86% in California) say they have personally taken action to respond to climate change. The poll was conducted by The Harris Poll in March 2022 surveying 1,300 youth ages 14-24 nationwide, including over 300 in California.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, climate change is a global health threat, brought on by the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, that if left unchecked will increase the risks to human livelihood, especially vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, and those living in disadvantaged communities.
“Our warming planet, and all that comes with it, is literally putting lives at risk, so it’s no wonder that it’s also causing deep stress among our youth,” said David Bond, director of Behavioral Health at Blue Shield of California. “Kids are resilient, but they also see what’s going on around them. Together, we need to be responsive to the effects of eco-anxiety by opening up a dialogue with our children and seeking professional treatment when appropriate.”
Youth Are Taking Action
Young people are stepping up to make a difference by relying less on plastic products (54% nationwide, 64% in California), reducing use of electricity (45% nationwide, 52% in California), and working to conserve water (38% nationwide, 53% in California).
“The studies are pretty conclusive in my mind – the planet is in serious trouble, and it looks like it will be up to my generation to take a stand on climate change,” said Joel Castro, 17, senior at Herbert Hoover High School in San Diego and president of his school’s Cesar Chavez Service Club. “My classmates, friends, and family are already taking steps to help heal the earth – like recycling, encouraging people to get out of their cars, taking part in community cleanups, and even advocating for policy change within our schools and communities. But we need more people to jump on board before it’s too late.”
Calling On Leaders to Do More
- A vast majority of respondents (81% nationwide, 84% in California) agree that global leaders are not doing enough to combat climate change.
- Three quarters of youth (74% nationwide, 74% in California) say they agree that companies in the U.S. bear some responsibility to help people combat the impacts of climate change on their mental health.
- A majority (85% nationwide, 86% in California) believe it is important to support brands/companies that are sustainable and/or environmentally friendly.
“Climate change is an urgent public health crisis and addressing this challenge is a priority for Blue Shield,” said Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California. “That is why we are committed to becoming carbon negative by 2023 and zero waste by 2025. We are also quantifying the cost of climate change on our health and adopting and promoting climate-smart health care.”
For more on Blue Shield’s NextGen Climate Survey, click here.
For tips on how to cope with climate change-related stress, click here.
For more on Blue Shield of California’s NextGen Sustainability Goals click here.
For more information on how Blue Shield of California is increasing awareness, advocacy and access for youth mental health, visit Blue Shield of California’s BlueSky page.
The research was conducted online in the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of Blue Shield of California between March 10-22, 2022, among 1,300 respondents ages 14-24, including an oversample of 369 youth who reside in California. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the total Gen Z sample data is accurate to within +3.4 percentage points using a 95% confidence level and the total California sample data is accurate to within +5.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Blue Shield of California (contact info above).
About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California strives to create a healthcare system worthy of its family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is a tax paying, nonprofit, independent member of the Blue Shield Association with over 4.5 million members, over 7,500 employees and more than $21 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 in San Francisco and now headquartered in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare healthcare service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $192 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation in the last five years to have an impact on California communities.
For more news about Blue Shield of California, please visit news.blueshieldca.com.