The Mental Health of Black Gen-Zers: How to Manage Negative Emotions

Ganiyat Adeniji for Black Girl Vitamins

Photo Credit: Girls United-Essence


Hey there Gen-Zers! Life can be a rollercoaster of emotions, and it's important to take care of our mental well-being. In this blog post, we'll explore some common negative emotions that we may experience, such as anxiety, seasonal depression, and stress. We'll also delve into the causes behind these emotions, including trauma and societal pressures. But fear not, because we'll also provide practical tips and strategies for managing these emotions. Let's get started! 

Young lady holding a smart phone

Generation Z, which includes people born in the mid-1990s and early 2010s, are experiencing unique challenges as they grow up in the modern world. Their societal expectations are amplified as they find their way to a world where physical and digital realities overlap. Amidst all this, mental health has become a pressing issue for Gen-Zers. Recent studies show that they report higher levels of anxiety, depression, and distress than any other age group. According to the APA Stress in America Survey, a shocking 91% of the respondents affirmed that they had experienced physical or emotional symptoms due to stress and mental illness in the past year. Another survey indicated that over two in five of the 68 million Gen-Zers in the country have a clinically diagnosed mental health condition.

This generation, some of the first to grow up with the internet and social media as integral parts of their lives, has had a unique experience of adolescence and early adulthood. Moreover, Gen-Zers are maturing in a time of global uncertainty, with climate change, political unrest, and the COVID-19 pandemic adding to their stress. These external pressures can worsen mental health problems. On top of that, societal expectations and pressures, both in the digital and in the real world, can lead to negative self-perception and low self-esteem. Gen-Zers frequently struggle with a range of negative emotions. Also common are feelings of loneliness, particularly as virtual interactions occasionally replace real-life connections.

Think about what it's like to be a young person today, part of Generation Z. Now, add being Black and female. It's like trying to find your way through a maze, where the walls are made up of society's expectations and biases about race, gender, and age. Sadly, society doesn't always listen to them or value their experiences as much as it should. Let's also consider the digital world, which is a big part of their lives. It's a place where they can share their thoughts, make friends, and build communities. But it's not always safe - numerous Black female Gen-zers are frequently harassed online because of their peculiarities, which can be really hard to deal with.

These experiences aren't just tough; they can also make the mental health issues that are common in their generation even worse. It is indeed a complicated situation that needs more understanding and care. As a society, we need to pay attention to the negative emotions that affect the young generation.

Understanding Gen-Z Negative Emotions

Negative emotions are a natural part of life, and Gen-Zers may face unique challenges that contribute to these feelings. Anxiety, for example, can stem from academic pressure, social media comparison, or uncertainty about the future. Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), may affect them during the darker months when sunlight is limited. (See here for how to recognize SAD). And let's not forget about good old stress, which can arise from various sources like school, work, or personal relationships. It's important to acknowledge and address these emotions rather than bottling them up. What are Some of the Causes

To effectively manage negative emotions, it's crucial to understand their underlying causes. For Gen-Zers, you need to know that these feelings can show up in different ways. You might see changes in your mood, like feeling sad, irritable, or anxious more often. Physical symptoms can also indicate negative emotions. This could be changes in appetite, sleep habits, or energy levels. You might also lose interest in activities you used to enjoy or find it hard to focus. Please note that it is normal to feel this way and these emotions are a part of life. But, if these feelings persist or start affecting your daily life, it might be time to seek a solution.

Trauma, whether it's from past experiences or ongoing challenges, can also significantly impact our mental well-being. It's essential to seek support and professional help if needed. Additionally, societal pressures, such as the constant need to be "perfect" or the fear of missing out (FOMO), can contribute to feelings of anxiety and stress. By recognizing and addressing these causes, we can take steps towards better mental health.

Strategies for Managing Negative Emotions

Now, let's focus on some practical strategies to help us navigate and manage negative emotions. First, we need to stay in the present moment, fully engaged in what is real in our lives. See it as taking a mental snapshot of right now. This can help us recognize and accept our feelings without judgment.

1. Self-Care: Prioritize self-care activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it's taking a bubble bath, going for a walk in nature, or practicing mindfulness and meditation.

  1. Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Find healthy outlets for your emotions, such as journaling, painting, playing an instrument, or engaging in physical exercise. Regular exercise can be a real mood booster and act as a natural stress reliever. Whether it's a quick walk around the block, a yoga session, or even a dance class, find a physical activity that you enjoy and make it part of your routine. Also, learn to meditate. Meditation is often used to help us become more mindful and can also help reduce stress and promote relaxation. These activities can help you process your feelings and reduce stress.

  2. Support System: Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or mentors who can provide a listening ear and offer support. Remember, you're not alone in this journey.

  3. Healthy Habits: Our diet can influence our mood and energy levels. Try to keep a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. And don't forget to stay hydrated and limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol. We should also ensure good sleep hygiene. Good sleep is essential for emotional well-being. Try to set a regular sleep schedule, create a restful environment, and avoid screens before bedtime.Taking care of your physical health can have a positive impact on your mental well-being.

  4. Time Management: Stay organized and manage your time effectively to reduce stress and avoid overwhelm. Break tasks into smaller, manageable chunks and prioritize what needs to be done.

  5. Seek Professional Help: Don't hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional, If negative emotions become overwhelming, If you find that your negative emotions are impacting your daily life and well-being, talk to someone. Therapists and counselors are trained to help you understand and manage your emotions effectively. They can provide guidance, support, and specialized tools to help you navigate your emotions. It is okay to ask for help

  6. Get Busy: Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine. This can include deep breathing exercises, grounding techniques, or guided meditation. Being present in the moment can help alleviate anxiety and stress.


Remember, managing negative emotions is an ongoing process, and it's okay to ask for help when needed. By understanding the causes of these emotions and implementing practical strategies, you can take proactive steps towards better mental health. Let's support and uplift each other as we navigate the ups and downs of life. You've got this!

As you nourish a society that promotes open discussions about mental health, we can better equip Gen-Zers, and all of us, to manage life's challenges. It's perfectly fine to have off days, and seeking help is a mark of strength, not weakness. Let's keep the conversation going and create a future where mental health is prioritized.

Reviewed by Bryanne N. Standifer-barrett, MD