• Kerry Johnson

Millennials and Mental Health

To be classed as a millennial, you would have been born between 1981 and 1996. Followed by Gen Z and now generation Alpha. When we look through history, different generations of people from the Lost generation to the Baby boomers often share some collective struggles due to the state of the economy, common values, world wars, technology changes and much more.

While all our circumstances are unique to us, there’s a lot of common issues that arise for Millennials. One being student debt. We were all promised, get a degree and your employment opportunities will be better. Yet many of us find ourselves in non-graduate jobs with salaries lower than we anticipated. Other issues we face are Unemployment, Caring for Aging Parents, and of course Housing Costs. Many millennials would do anything to win their place on the property ladder like their parents did, but are unable to save for a deposit and left with no choice other to rent, making it difficult then to save.

Another issue is the large advancement in technological developments over such a short period! Those of us born in the 80’s early 90’s were born into a world where mobile phone’s and laptops were more of a mystery than they were an essential item, and through the years we have watched technology advance at a rapid rate, and we have learnt to navigate our way through this, while our younger Gen Z and generation Alpha friends and family know little different to this technological world!

We saw the birth of Social media, whilst still remembering a time before its existence! Many of us see ourselves as brands in a world of endless consumerism, and some may feel that an inability to keep up with technology may disadvantage them while being negatively impacted by the technology itself. We are subject to constant comparisons, trying to keep up a certain image, keeping up with what’s going on, when previously we really would have no idea what people were doing, and I’m not sure that we cared either?

Simple CBT interventions can be powerful for helping us manage the technological difficulties. For example, learning to turn off your phone at a certain time can reduce anxiety. It’s your way of telling people, you’re not available at every moment of the day, and this is ok! This can be difficult for millennials as the real world and social media world can become blurred accompanied by the demands of the ‘digitalised workplace’ and needing to be continuously available. Discovering and displaying these boundaries might do wonders for your anxiety and stress levels.

We are now more aware of worldwide problems than ever before. We have great news platforms, Youtube, Ted talks. And while it teaches us ways to better ourselves, it also informs us of everything there is to worry about – hence, more anxiety. We need to be aware of this information overload and learn to take a break when we have the information that we need.

I recently discovered the concept of being ‘paralysed by choice.’ We have more options than ever before, and this can produce a lack of direction or structure. We fear making the ‘wrong’ choice and therefore fear regret. Do we travel? Where should we travel? But if I travel I won’t be able to save for a house deposit, but if I don’t travel then I will regret this! What do I do?

This is accompanied by a fixation on outcome and goals, there is a pressure for millennials to do things in the right way at the right time. For example, ‘how we should be pregnant’ and the ‘right time to buy a house.’ And of course, the right time to start a family, when does the transformation from ‘You are too young to have a child’, turn into ‘You need to start trying, you’re not getting any younger.’

But it’s not bad to have too much choice is it? I think it can be, because when we are uncertain in our choices, it fuels our anxiety in an already uncertain world. It might be helpful to sit down and look at what’s important to you, don’t feel obliged to travel if you don’t have a natural desire, and don’t feel obliged to buy a house if you don’t want to. There are good and bad things about any decision, but it’s important to assess how these decisions will impact on your mental wellbeing and happiness, and to not fixate on the opinions and the fears people may project onto us.

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