Mental Health Trends for Millennials
It is all too common to think of Millennials as an emerging generation. Yet, this doesn’t reflect the reality most Millennials are in their 30s, and facing significant challenges — both those that are familiar across all generations and many those preceding them were less likely to be subject to.
Indeed, one of the most prevalent challenges is the rising millennial mental health crisis. A recent Blue Cross Blue Shield study reported an increase in mental health challenges among Millennials, with a third of the generation experiencing a behavioral health condition. This is not merely indicative of the stereotype of over-sensitivity Millennials are often belittled with; it’s a concerning issue that requires examination of the utmost seriousness.
Let’s take a moment to review a few of the salient points of focus about this issue.
Greater Awareness for Millennial Mental Health
Let’s start with a positive note. One of the trends of Millennials’ relationships with mental health is toward greater awareness. Perhaps more than any other generation that preceded them, they strive for a better understanding — and indeed acceptance — of the impact their mental health has on their lives. While we are still some way off of removing the negative connotations toward mental health, Millennials’ willingness to be part of the conversation and being advocates for their mental wellness is helping to turn the tide.
Perhaps the greatest outcome of this approach is an ability to take greater control of their mental wellness. Indeed, the vocabulary of mental illness is such common parlance now that there is a greater tendency in seeking diagnoses to take better control of their symptoms. It’s also worth considering the position of a recent Center for Collegiate Mental Health report, which attributed the reported rise in depression diagnoses to the tendency for Millennials to actively seek help.
As positive as this is, recognition of the greater tendency to seek mental health help also highlights a challenge. In a society that is increasingly accepting of exploring and treating mental illness, there needs to be an equal effort in making services available. Unfortunately, the healthcare system in the U.S. still has very limited scope for behavioral illness treatment — and this isn’t only from an affordability standpoint. Geography plays a role, too. A recent report found that 112 million people in the U.S. live in areas with not enough services to meet the needs of residents. For Millennials’ openness toward mental health to continue positively, there needs to be attention toward assisting.
The Impact of Stress
While there is some evidence regarding genetic predisposition and chemical neurological changes about the cause of mental illness, there are environmental factors. Where Millennials are concerned, this is most evident in the trend toward mental health challenges surrounding stress, depression, and anxiety. Even during a year in which stress impacted people across the globe due to the pandemic, Millennials reported feeling more stress than older generations.
This isn’t because Millennials are less robust. Indeed, their tendency to talk about their mental health shows strength. Rather, it can have a lot to do with the issues at the stage of life they’re experiencing. The generation is currently between the ages of 25 and 40, with many buying homes and taking on mortgage responsibilities for the first time. Insights into this aspect of the home market tell us that Millennials tend to buy smaller homes — for environmental and financial reasons — and that many have less than $1000 for a downpayment despite rising house prices. The upshot is that while they are getting on the housing ladder they’re aware of how tenuous their continued ability to afford a home is.
Let’s face it, the fact that a period of economic uncertainty due to COVID-19 and unemployment among a generation that has already seen enormous inflation and crippling student debt is a recipe for stress-induced illness. As such, reviewing the trends in mental health needs to be cognizant of the environmental factors in play. Professionals in these fields need to examine the propensity for monumental life events to impact mental health challenges and provide a tailored course of action to help Millennials handle them.
Each generation is faced with its own hurdles when it comes to mental health, and there really isn’t enough consideration about how this impacts services offered. Millennials are among the first generation of digital natives, and it’s important to consider how the trends in mental health can best be handled through the lens of the world they live in and the tools they use.
We’re just starting to see some of the first examples of the industry taking notice of popular digital behavior. Telehealth counseling and therapeutic tools are emerging to meet the lifestyle needs of Millennials. Patients can access mental health professionals and drug rehabilitation services through video calls. There are also apps for mindfulness, mood and symptom monitoring, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). However, it’s also important to understand that these are largely privately funded services, and a public health issue like mental illness means there is a need to provide wider access to those of limited economic means.
Importantly, there must be a greater emphasis on how to use the analysis of trends and data concerning Millennial mental health. In our data-rich society, there is a lot of raw information being collected about what issues face the population and statistics on diagnoses, but without interpretation, this is not a practical tool. Healthcare business analysts can play an important role in improving the quality and application of care in this area. A large part of their position tends to revolve around gathering, reviewing, and interpreting financial data in healthcare facilities to make economic decisions. Yet, their skills can also be directed to refine the provision of services. Their historical analysis can track the journey of developing mental health needs, and translate to key public health decision-makers where the trends are likely to head, and where funds need to be allocated to avoid a crisis.
There are a lot of assumptions that are bundled with how and why Millennials face mental health challenges. However, it’s important to take time to understand what elements of their attitudes and life stages that impact and influence the trends. With some focus and analysis, public health officials can better adjust the direction of the system to provide a more appropriate and effective response to millennial mental health.
Tags: behavioral health, crossroads health, lake county, mental health, mental health awareness, Mentor Ohio, millennial mental health, millennials, self care, youth mental health, youth treatment