The Gen "Why" factors impacting Mental Health
It’s a fact: Millennials are at higher risk to experience mental health issues than any other generation. While research shows that it’s this generation who are carrying the brunt of the mental health challenges that plague the globe, the bigger question lies in the “why”. The cause.
Before any problem can be solved, we need to look at the causes that lie behind it. While the cause of mental health challenges is a multifaceted problem, creating awareness around some of the key causes, is critical. When we pull back the covers and start looking at the wider context of the world – the social, political, and economic reality that millennials face – these causes start to become clear.
We (millennials) are the first generation in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty, unemployment and lower levels of wealth and personal income than any other generation at the same stage of life. Housing unaffordability slaps us in the face every day, as does the rising cost of living. The chains of societal pressures, ideals, and expectations loom over our heads, with just enough force to make us feel stuck – and in some cases, chained at our ankles.
Social media does no favours in encouraging us to compare ourselves to others; self-esteem and worth walking the plank, ready to jump at any moment. And then there is the Covid-19 factor: the ripple effects that in some cases, have exemplified the already existing issues. All these challenges and issues leading to rising levels of anxiety, stress, depression, eating disorders and addictions: berating our mental health.
It’s no wonder then, that there are plenty of millennials out there heading toward mental health concerns – or their quarter-life crises – at the speed of light.
However, the purpose of calling these challenges out, isn’t to paint a doom and gloom story. In fact, it’s the opposite: to help. The irony is, that despite the issues millennials face, the level of awareness in our generation (and arguably, the world) isn’t where it could (or should) be. Which means we end up feeling alone in our battles because we don’t understand these types of contextual factors that predispose us.
When we start adopting a broader mindset, we can see it’s not a one-size-fits-all model and multiple causes exist. Causes that are relevant to our generation – and in some parts “normal”. Meaning that the challenges we face – and the impacts on our mental health – are validated. This isn’t to be confused however with meaning we don’t need to do anything about it. In fact, we do. And now we know some of the wider external factors at play, even more reason to take control. Awareness creates knowledge, and knowledge gives power to make choices and decisions.
Like most challenges, when we know what we are dealing with, we are in a better position to be able to start working on the solution. While we cannot control external factors, we can choose how we respond. Meaning with the right support, we (millennials) can shift our lens and perspective and start taking control over our mental health journey.