How Gen Z will redefine wellness

How Gen Z will redefine wellness

They’re under pressure, but they’re leaning in and carving new paths forward. Maybe one reason is that they define wellness for themselves. 

With lockdowns, work-from-home mandates and travel restrictions still looming, it is no surprise that mental health continues to dominate headlines as society grapples with what health and wellness is supposed to look like in a post-pandemic era. Gen Z in particular has played a large role in opening the dialogue around wellness, verbalizing their mental health struggles and asking for help and resources when needed. To them, it’s okay to say when they are not okay. EY continues its research-based exploration of this game-changing generation with a deep dive into a topic that spans timely and timeless. The big takeaway is that Gen Z doesn’t limit wellness to physical health; mental and social well-being get equal airtime. In their seamlessly interconnected world, where work, friends, family and personal demands merge by the minute on multiple devices and days are punctuated by tonal alerts, the notion of compartmentalization holds scant advantage for Gen Z. They have an inherent understanding of balancing mindfulness, physicality and social connection, and how those directly affect one another. 

Three key takeways from the Gen Z Wellness Study:

Physical health is made of more than exercise and nutrition.

Gen Z is all about interconnection. They were born with phones in their hands and buds in their ears. Now they’re starting their adult lives in a world that’s been upended and reshaped by a global pandemic, so mobile technology is their gateway to virtually everything. Their brains are like dashboards, taking in the whole landscape and taking multitasking to a new level. So it’s no surprise that they also take a broad view of wellness and health, listening to the constant cross-talk among physical, mental and social factors.

Our Gen Z research reveals that for them, physical health encompasses more than a healthy diet and an active routine. Sleep and downtime, awareness of body image, sexual behavior and orientation, gender identity, diet and nutrition – all are part of one picture of health for Gen Z

Mental health requires vigilance for overall equilibrium.

Gen Z is in touch with their emotions. They believe that mental health is a holistic state of well-being that grows from the inside out. And they recognize that if they don’t take care of it, that neglect will emerge externally in physical and behavioral ways. They’re especially concerned about stress and anxiety, and access to mental health care.

Social health flourishes with open communication, authenticity and trust.

Social wellness may be a new concept, but it’s an ancient human need. Gen Z values relationships. They’re natural supporters in problem situations, showing a talent for follow-through that may be enabled by the ease of technology. They place a premium on honesty and civility. And it appears those ever-present phones aren’t actually keeping them from the real world; they’re connecting them to it.

Study methodology

Ernst & Young LLP interviewed a panel of 25 members of Gen Z from across the United States. In-depth interviews were completed between September 29 and October 14, 2021. 

To be considered a member of Gen Z, a person had to have been born between January 1, 1997, and December 31, 2007. 




Gen Z will push wellness in new directions. They will be the driving force behind the continued conversation around physical, mental and social health, both from a consumer and employer standpoint.

About this article


Related Gen Z articles

Is Gen Z the spark we need to see the light?

Gen Z is shifting societal paradigms, bringing major implications for businesses as both consumers and employees. Read the survey of your Gen Z stakeholders.

How contradictions define Generation Z

EY research uncovers five distinct Gen Z segments that employers and business leaders need to know.