One of the biggest impacts is seen in the increasing numbers of students dealing with feelings of anxiety and loneliness.
This month, we’re taking a closer look at the importance of resilience as we mentor students. Resilience has always been an important quality for students to learn and develop, and the challenges of the past year have only made that more clear.
Last week, we briefly looked at the impact that trauma is having on this generation of students (Gen Z). One of the biggest impacts is seen in the increasing numbers of students dealing with feelings of anxiety and loneliness.
While facing a number of challenges in academics and life, Jeremy enjoys having the companionship of his mentor. “I’ve had a few different counselors in my life, but having a mentor is so much better. We can talk about anything, not just problems. My mentor listens to me and he is actually interested in what I have to say”.
The question is…what is our role as mentors in helping students deal with these feelings?
While there are certainly limits to what we can (and should) do in helping students deal with feelings of anxiety and loneliness, we can still do something. In fact, a recent study* has shown that when it comes to dealing with loneliness, nearly half (45%) of students look to a non-family member to connect with. And, when dealing with feelings of anxiety, one of the most popular methods of coping chosen by students was talking with someone. Many of these connections and conversations are likely with a friend, but mentors certainly play a role here as well.
One big takeaway here is that deep relational connectedness is essential for a student’s mental health. The reality is that even though this generation is the most “connected” generation (as a result of the rise of the internet, smartphones, and social media), they are also the most “disconnected” generation in many ways.
The bottom line is Gen Z needs the kind of deep, relational connectedness that a healthy mentoring relationship offers. They need adults in their lives who are willing to listen and learn and walk with them through the high’s and low’s of life.
Will you be the one for a student in your community today?
– Jason Matthews, BTO Mentor
*The study referred to in this post led to the recent publication of “Gen Z Volume 2” by the Barna Group. A portion of the content of this post was also adapted from that study.
Jason Matthews is a youth pastor in Washington State, where he’s been serving students for over 20 years. When he doesn’t have to be in the office, he loves to be outside with his family, hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest. He also loves to network with other youth workers.