Millennials are considered “the therapy generation” in the mental health and substance abuse realm. This generation is changing the way people look and talk about mental health.
Although depression and anxiety are skyrocketing in this age group, millennials are the first generation to talk about their battles with mental illness in hopes of breaking down the barriers and de-stigmatizing mental health disorders.
According to the Pew Research Center, any individuals born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 23 to 38 in 2019) are considered a Millennial, and anyone born from 1997 onward is part of a new generation.
Mental Health in The Millennial Generation
Depression and anxiety are two of the most commonly seen mental health disorders among millennials.
Financial strain, loneliness, the strive for perfectionism, and workplace burnout are some of the top contributing factors associated with rising rates of mental health disorders among this generation.
Although this age group may be the pioneers of therapy, they are also contributing to the mental health crisis; we are currently facing in present-day society.
- Since 2013, millennials have seen a 47% increase in major-depression diagnoses.
- 36,000 American millennial deaths in 2017 were directly related to drugs and alcohol.
- The number of college students seeking mental-health help increased from 2011 to 2016 at five times the rate of new students starting college.
- A 2015 study by American University said that Millennials grew up hearing about anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and suicide, and they are more accepting of others with mental illness.
Millennials are Financially Stressed
According to research from Northwestern Mutual, 78% of millennials feel the pressure between planning for present and future financial responsibilities.
Studies have shown that the majority of millennials are not saving enough for their retirement because they are bogged down in student loan debt and are always under pressure to purchase a home.
Studies have shown that the millennial generation has lower homeownership rates than previous generations did at their age.
The student loan debt crisis is an acute problem that has impacted this generation the hardest.
One of the most essential reasons why millennials seem so far behind on financial security, compared to previous generations at their age is because many millennials came of age during the Great Recession.
During 2007-2009, jobs were scarce, and many young millennials took out hefty student loans for college, contributing to their overall unhealthy financial status.
Workplace Burnout and Mental Health
Workplace stress and burnout have also contributed to financial strain and mental health disorders among the millennial generation.
A recent study by Mind Share Partners, Qualtrics, and SAP reveals that half of the millennials and 75% of Gen Zers have left a job for mental health reasons.
This financial strain on the millennial generation has most likely contributed to their increased rates of anxiety and depression.
Financial Stress and The Link Between Anxiety and Depression
Research has shown that financial stress is linked to psychological distress as the brain undergoes an acute inflammation reaction in response to financial hardship.
This can lead to an increase in difficulty with friends and family members, conflicts in the workplace, and social distress among peers, all of which can be triggers for depression and anxiety.
Millennials Are Lonely
Studies have shown that millennials are more alone compared to previous generations.
A recent poll by YouGov recently confirmed that Millennials had surpassed Generation X and Baby Boomers as the loneliest generation. This report found that 30 percent of Millennials always or often feel alone.
About one in five people in this age group admit they have no friends, while 27 percent say they have no close friends, and 30 percent say they have no “best friend.”
Does Social Media Breed Loneliness?
Millennials, who use both social media and the Internet more frequently than their elders, are making themselves lonely in the process.
This generation is lacking in-person connections because they are spending more time in the “virtual world,” often comparing themselves to others.
Millennials are also marrying at a later age, are less likely to be in committed relationships and are less likely to have children compared to their older generations.
This age group seems more focused on their careers while simultaneously comparing themselves to others within their generation, coining the popular millennial term FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out.
FOMO seems to be the new rat race for the millennial generation and is the new social pressure to be in the right place with the right people.
Millennials are so caught up with trying to fit in that they often struggle with living in the present moment and enjoying the company of others.
How many times have you noticed millennials sitting in a restaurant, but instead of conversing with each other, they are each completely dissolved in their cell phones?
The Link Between Loneliness and Mental Health
Loneliness and social isolation are some of the primary triggers for depression, and they can also be symptoms associated with depression.
Individuals who struggle with depression may feel lonely, even if they are always surrounded by others as loneliness can often be an internal feeling directly related to low-self esteem.
High levels of loneliness are associated with poor physical health, depression, poor decision making, increased stress levels, alcohol and drug use, altered brain function, and suicide.
Multidimensional Perfectionism Among Millennials
Social media is fantastic and very addicting. Millennials were the first generation to grow up with the Internet and social media.
With the click of a button, they can be connected to the rest of the world and a plethora of information.
It is easy to see how everyone else is living their life through social media and compare your “shortcomings” to those you see on Facebook or Instagram.
The rise of social media and the Internet has allowed the world to be at Millennials’ fingertips. As a result, this generation feels the immense weight of this fast-paced and competitive virtual world.
There is such a tremendous pressure to be always “on,” connected, and to make sure that you sound great and have it all together.
A 2018 study of 40,000 American, Canadian and British college students published in the journal Psychological Bulletin found that millennials are suffering from “multidimensional perfectionism” in many areas of their lives.
This generation is known to set lofty goals with unrealistic expectations, and when these goals are not reached, a sense of failure seeps in, resulting in low self-esteem and anxiety.
Increase in Mental Health Treatment Among Millennials
Millennials are the first generation to seek mental health treatment actively, whether it is online therapy, inpatient addiction treatment, or talk therapy with a licensed psychologist.
This generation is also more likely to speak openly about their mental health disorders with their parents, friends, and co-workers and is also more likely to post about it on social media.
Having an open discussion about mental health on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook can likely be attributed to the fact that younger celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Prince Harry, and Demi Lovato are speaking out about their personal experience with mental health.
These conversations about depression, anxiety, and substance abuse have gone from a private to a public space, which has helped break down the stigma associated with mental illness.
Although millennials are less likely to be insured compared to both Generation X and Baby Boomers, due to financial circumstances, they are still more likely to seek therapy and focus on preventative health, even if it means dipping into their savings and retirement funds and paying out of pocket.
Questions to Ponder
The millennial generation has a whole new set of problems compared to past generations that have ultimately triggered the decline in their mental health.
However, they are also the frontiers of mental health treatment and have made tremendous strides in initiating conversations on public forums about the importance of mental health treatment.
It may pose the question; did previous generations need to seek treatment for mental health? Did they have the same amount of stressors affecting their psychological well being compared to present-day millennials?
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