Navigating Injustice Shares What Race, Faith and Mental Health Mean for BIPOC Gen Z

 In Diversity & Gen Z, Mental Health, Research

Mental health issues are a reality for many young people, and COVID only intensified the problem. In 2022, nearly half of young people (47%) told Springtide they were moderately or extremely depressed, 55% reported being moderately or extremely stressed, and 45% said they were moderately or extremely lonely.

And while young Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) also face these same challenges, their experiences are also impacted (and sometimes magnified) by racism and discrimination, which social science research shows are linked to depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Yet, in our latest research report, Navigating Injustice: A Closer Look at Race, Faith & Mental Health, data reveal that young BIPOC are flourishing mentally and emotionally in rates comparable to their White peers. Young BIPOC report high levels of life satisfaction, agency, and self-esteem. When asked about what supports their mental health, over half of young BIPOC (58%) said that their faith matters.

So what does race, faith and mental health look like? See the stats below.

Young BIPOC are slightly more religious than their White peers, with 37% reporting that they are moderately or very religious compared to 34% of White young people. Black young people report the highest rates of religiosity, with 46% indicating they are moderately or very religious. Young BIPOC are slightly more trusting of organized religion, with 33% saying they trust organized religion a lot or completely, compared to 29% of White young people. While 24% of both young BIPOC and White young people have no doubts about the existence of a higher power, White young people are slightly more likely than young BIPOC to not believe in a higher power at all (16% versus 12%).
Young BIPOC report higher rates of flourishing in their faith lives than their White peers. While 72% of young BIPOC say that it is important that a mental-health counselor share the same racial or ethnic background as them, only 47% of young BIPOC say it is important that a mental-health counselor share the same religious or spiritual beliefs as them.

Race and faith intersect for Young BIPOC

For Young BIPOC, race and religion are intertwined, but racial identity is often more front-and-center than religious identity. Many young people claim belief in a higher power and describe themselves as either religious or spiritual, and for young BIPOC, their belief systems and practices are a part of who they are as people.  Yet, when they visit a faith community, they can’t take off their race at the door. Racial identity often stays at the forefront of this mix.

As May, 20, told us:

I am the person who can’t leave [race] outside of a space. Being Black shapes the way I think about things in a lot of ways and what I tend to think about. Religious or spiritual places are no exception.

Here’s five other key takeaways from this report:

  1. For children of immigrants, racial and religious identity are closely tied.
  2. Young BIPOC are deeply and negatively impacted by racial injustice, both spiritually and emotionally.
  3. Positive racial and religious identities are associated with good mental health.
  4. Young BIPOC wish their faith leaders and communities would acknowledge and celebrate their racial identity.
  5. Young BIPOC wish their faith leaders would address racial injustice from a pastoral perspective.

In our next post, we’ll show what guidance this report gives to faith leaders and other trusted adults who are caring for young BIPOC. See the full report here!

Recommended Posts

Be a part of the path forward.

Subscribe to stay up-to-date on the latest research as we work to build actionable frameworks to care for young people.