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The 10 Social Causes Gen Z and Millennials Are Most Passionate About

After an eventful year, the social causes and issues young people are most passionate about have changed 

TL;DR

  • Mental health is now the top social cause / issue young people are passionate about
  • In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, abortion / birth control jumped up their list of top causes
  • Issues concerning their future, like gun violence and climate change, are rising in priority as well

Gen Z and Millennials have they’ve shown for years that they’re leaders in activism. YPulse’s Causes/Charity & Activism report shows that the majority have taken action to support a cause or political belief, and most believe that their generation can make the biggest difference in the world. But of course, there are many, many issues that they see as problems for their gens and some are more prominent than others for young people, especially as major events (politically and globally) demand their attention and involvement. As they constantly learn from each other on social media, the causes / issues they’re most passionate about shift, showing their dedication to current events and making change.  

We’ve shown how the top causes that they’re passionate about can shift from year to year, but during particularly volatile political times, they can also shift within months. Our recent trend report The Cause Conundrum dives even deeper into the way they feel as activists, and the challenges they face in making all their decisions align with their values—and how brands can support them. To get a sense of what issues they’re most concerned about right now, we ask them to choose which social causes / issues they’re passionate about; out of a list of 28 options, these are the top 10 they say they’re most passionate about—and it’s changed significantly since we last asked at the beginning of 2022: 

Ranking list showing the top 10 social causes Gen Z and Millennials are passionate about, from January 2022 and August 2022

Mental health became the top cause they’re passionate about this year 

For Gen Z and Millennials, mental health help / care has long been a cause they’re vocal about, and they’ve made it a mainstream topic of conversation, both individually and for major brands. Now, it’s the number one social cause / issue they’re passionate about, and YPulse’s What is Wellness? trend report shows they consider mental wellness the most important part of their wellness now—even more than physical wellness. Some of this likely comes as a result of the last few years of their lives being very stressful; YPulse’s Mental Health report shows 50% of young people say their mental health was negatively impacted by COVID-19, and 78% agree “I’ve noticed that people are making mental health a priority more lately.”  

This is an issue they want to see brands get involved with, too; 78% of young people agree “I want to live in a world where people openly talk about their mental health,” and while they are the ones really driving this openness, they know brands can help them. In fact, 61% of young consumers would rather brands to teach them about mental / emotional wellness than physical wellness, and 59% say “Any brand can be talking about wellness.” Many brands have already listened to this call, integrating mental health into their brand messaging and marketing 

Abortion has become an even more important issue to young people this year 

Since January, abortion / birth control has become a hot topic of conversation, and young people are now more likely to say that it’s a cause they’re passionate about. While it was in the top five causes / issues they’re passionate about earlier this year, it’s now number two on their list—showing how pressing their concerns about the matter have become. And there’s no uncertainty why: when the Supreme Court released their decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June, young people were among the first to speak out. In overwhelming numbers, Gen Z and Millennials took to social media (TikTok especially) to spread information about the decision, express disagreement, and organize fundraising and protests across the country.  

Prominent Gen Z-run organization Gen-Z For Change have made notable contributions to this cause and show how Gen Z have taken their position as leaders of social change. The organization flooded For You Pages with their viral videos about the implications of the decision, and rally support for pro-choice movements, gaining millions of views and likes overnight. They haven’t relented in their support since then; Olivia Julianna, a political strategist for the group, spearheaded a multi-million-dollar fundraiser for abortion funds.  

It’s obvious that organizations like theirs—by Gen Z, for Gen Z—are helping to drive continued political activism for the gen. This issue was a major point on their ballots in the recent midterm elections, and thanks to support from other members of their gen in learning about voting, they made serious waves on election results. Their huge turnout not only led to highly contested wins for their candidates but also Gen Z’s first congressman Maxwell Frost of Florida, who campaigned on several other top causes for these gens.  

Their top causes reflect a concern for their future as much as their present 

Since January, Gen Z and Millennials have shifted their attention on some other issues; inequalities like racism and LGBTQ discrimination / rights remain top causes they’re passionate about, while concerns over COVID-19 have fallen. COVID-19 has moved from their third top cause they’re passionate about to out of the top 10; clearly as restrictions have eased, and COVID fills less of their daily headlines, other issues are more likely to be on their minds.  

In its place, issues like gun control / gun violence have entered their top 10. These gens continue to see gun violence in schools and public places, and say it’s getting worse, they grow more passionate about fighting the issues themselves. Especially in the face of tragedies like school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, young activists have been prioritizing this cause. Through organizations like Gen Z-founded March For Our Lives, they’ve made it known their gens will not back down on this issue. 

Likewise, climate change / environmental efforts have broken back into their top 10—another concern for their future. YPulse data shows fighting climate change is a huge passion for these gens, but that with environmental issues like fuel emissions and fast fashion young people see that they alone are not the biggest contributors to the problem—big brands and billionaires are. Still, they care deeply about doing their part and 42% of young people say their generation is most responsible for solving climate change. And they do want brands to support them with eco-friendly product options, though, and 80% agree they expect brands to make an effort to be sustainable.