With to Margaret Rouse the author of
With more expectations than ever before with far fewer resources, the mental health of millennials is becoming an epidemic. Millennials have a reputation of laziness and narcissism but what are millennials exactly? Howe and Strauss define millennials, or Generation Y, as individuals born between 1982 and 2004. Many other sources seem to have a loose definition of the term millennial and the starting years seem to range from 1976 to 2004. Despite stereotypes, according to Margaret Rouse the author of Millennials (Millennial generation), millennials are more optimistic about their future than other generations even though they are the first generation since the Silent Generation of the Great Depression, to be less economically successful than their parents. The difference being that when the Silent Generation entered the workforce there were government programs such as the New Deal and the Works Progress Administration that created many jobs for young Americans. The current economy and other pressures of society are causing millennials to become depressed. According to an article in the Washington Post by Brooke Donation and Slate 44 percent of college students report symptoms of depression sometimes leading to suicide, one of the leading causes of death in college students.
The National Institute of Mental Health describes depression as a common but serious mood disorder. Depression can have very mild symptoms or very severe ones leading to death. To be diagnosed with depression the symptoms of a patient must last at least two weeks (The National Institute of Mental Health). Depression surfaces in many ways, such as digestion issues, headaches, isolation, insomnia, hypersomnia, loss of appetite, lack of interest in activities and many more (Understanding Depression, Nydegger).
Why are so many millennials falling subject to depression? Millennials are facing issues that their parents and generations before them never had to worry about. Millennials are entering the workforce with tons of college debt that seem unmanageable and a highly competitive job market because a college degree is now the equivalent to what a high school diploma was in previous generations. Beth Ann Bovino is the U.S. chief economist at Standard & Poor’s, she outlined the consequences of the millennial generation succeeding or failing. According to Bovino’s research millennials spend about $600 billion a year and by 2020 are said to spend $1.4 trillion. In Bovino’s research she found that if low wages for millennials continues the U.S. GDP could reduce by $244 billion through 2019. This is extremely discouraging for millennials trying to start their adult lives. Jeffrey Arnett, a psychologist, created a term called “emerging adulthood.” Emerging adulthood according to Jeffrey Arnett describes the extended adolescence that delays adulthood. One of the reasons Brooke Donatone and Slate attribute millennials inability to think for themselves and delaying adulthood is due to helicopter parenting. Helicopter parenting is the over involvement in a child’s life by a parent. The parent may intervene for every little issue the child has resulting in the child turning to the parent instead of the child thinking for themselves. A study done in the Journal of Child and Family studies stated that college students who had helicopter parents reported higher levels of depression and use of antidepressant medication. Although the helicopter parents meant well, then ended up doing their children a disservice and are partly to blame for the bad reputation millennials as a whole have, such as being lazy or incapable of doing things for themselves.
With high rates of depression of millennials companies are starting to take an interest in the mental health of their employees. Millennials are now the largest segment of workers in the workforce according Mike Thompson who is the CEO of National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. People like Thompson are smart to make an investment in the mental health of their employees considering depressed workers end up costing the company a lot of money according to an article on vault.com by Isabel Sperry. Sperry points out that depressed workers take more sick days, have trouble focusing and are less productive. Many business are recognizing the cost and outcome of depression and are taking a stance to address it. Seeing that millennials are very different from past generation, tasks companies with coming up with creative ways to address mental health in the workplace. American Express launched a program called Healthy Minds. This program was created to take the stigma out of talking about mental health with employees and encouraging them to get help. American Express’ way of being creative in their approach was bringing in a comedian to talk about mental illness. It was unconventional but so is the millennial generation.
If more companies get involved in observing the mental health and tell signs of depression, this may help those struggling with depression reach out for help. Millennials are the future leader of our country and possible contributors to our economy, it would do our country favor to focus on the growing rate of depression and put a stop to it. There is no reason that suicide should be a leading cause of death in millennials or a cause at all. Depression is something that can affect anyone but something that no one deserves. It is time that this issue receives the attention it deserves so that something can be done to change it.