Mental Health Awareness Month isn’t until May, but a startling new study is shedding light on the state of mental health and mental health screenings among Millennials. The findings suggest that the state of Millennial mental health going into 2020 is looking grim.
Business Insider took a look at the mental health of Millennials. While this age group is not as clearly delineated as Baby Boomers or Generation X, most agree that it describes those born between the early ’80s and the mid-’90s. That puts Millennials somewhere between approximately 23 and 38 years old. The study found that depression and "deaths of despair" are both on the rise among the generation. This added stress is being linked to issues such as loneliness, money stress and burnout in the workplace.
But we may be slower to recognize some of the unique challenges faced by this generation and how it may be affecting their mental health. Let’s look a little deeper at the mental health problems plaguing Millennials and how they are changing the way others may look at mental health.
The Unique Challenges Facing Millennials
There are a lot of jokes that come at the expense of Millennials. People call them snowflakes and laugh about all of the trophies they got just for participating. They’re also labeled as soft or entitled.
But on the one hand, Millennials are the most educated generation in the history of our country, but on the other hand, more than half of college graduates report being underemployed, according to Forbes. A college degree, they are finding, doesn’t guarantee you a great job.
Then there’s the debt.
A poll by CreditCards.com reveals that 65% of Millennials wonder if they will ever be free of debt — and it isn’t just student debt that’s keeping them down.
A 2018 study by Northwestern Mutual states that Millennials between the ages of 25 and 34 have an average debt of $42,000. And the biggest source of that debt is money owed on credit cards.
Millennials and Mental Health
Millennials are sometimes referred to as the anxious generation. In addition to the challenges we just discussed, there’s also social media to contend with. It’s all too easy these days to compare your achievements to those of everybody else you know.
The result? Millennials are more depressed at work than any previous generation. What’s more, almost 40% of Millennials say that their stress is increasing.
Who’s to Blame and What’s the Solution?
Many argue that helicopter parenting sets the stage for Millennials’ problems. If you grow up thinking you’re special and having problems fixed for you, you’re destined to be disappointed once you discover the real world … But that may be an oversimplification of the issue. It wasn’t too long ago that most of us thought that a college degree was all you needed to succeed — and that it was worth it no matter what the cost and no matter what your degree was in.
Being saddled with debt and stuck in a job you don’t like isn’t a great place to be, especially when social media sometimes makes it seem like everyone else is doing better than you.
At the end of the day, though, true depression and anxiety are much more than a feeling of wanting more out of life. They are mental health conditions that can and must be treated.
This ties into another key finding in the Business Insider study: Millennials are changing the way people look at mental health by being more open about their issues and destigmatizing therapy.
A 2017 report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State University found the number of college students seeking help for mental health increased from 2011 to 2016 at five times the rate of new students starting college. It means more and more Millennials are becoming more aware of potential mental health issues.
You can change jobs, work hard to get out of debt and improve your situation in life — but not when you’re weighed down by the fog of depression or severe anxiety. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) also provides free, confidential support for people in distress, 24 hours per day.
Talking to a healthcare professional can be the first step in feeling better — and moving forward with the hopes and dreams you have for the rest of your life. Contact us today if you need a hand making it through a tough time. Your primary care physician can also be a great resource for different treatment services.