Human Interest

Mental Health Amongst Millennials

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Mental wellness is a public health problem that has been overlooked for decades. According to the World Health Organization, mental illnesses account for more disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. Although symptoms may not always be as apparent as physical disorders, mental health is imperative to leading a healthy life. Mental illness is associated with increased occurrence of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, epilepsy, and cancer. There is a strong correlation between mental health and physical health; they often coincide. Mental illness, specifically depression, is at a steady rise in the U.S. and particularly amongst Millennials. CDC reports that about 25 percent of U.S. adults suffer from a mental illness and nearly 50% of U.S. adults will develop at least one mental illness during their lifetime.

 

In 2016 Blue Cross Blue Shield reported 6 percent of female members and 2.8 percent of male members (for a total of 4.4 percent, which is over 9 million members) had a diagnosis of major depression. This represented a 33 percent increase since 2013. This rise was seen across all age groups but was the highest among teens from 12 to 17 years old (increasing by 63 percent) followed by Millennials (ages 18 to 34), increasing by 47 percent. The significant increase is said to be attributed to several factors. The largest being social media habits and high stress levels. Millennials have found new and innovative ways to use technology. Whether creating an online business or virtual fundraising, millennials are recognized for our ability to navigate the cyber world.

 

Social Media Consumption

Sadly, the very thing that makes us like no other generation, is also the very aspect that causes such a hindrance. Excessive social media consumption has been proven to be correlated with depression. This is not to say social media itself is harmful, but it offers a space for people to indulge in self-destructive behavior. One of the most common of these behaviors is social comparison. Comparing one’s accomplishments to those of others is not only mentally toxic, but social media often offers false

or fictitious perceptions. For an example Instagram pictures and captions—many users are keen to add filters, lighting and adjusted camera angles to create the “perfect” post which often paints their lives in the best light. These posts can be extremely manipulated to enhance one moment in time, causing Instagram followers and even oneself to have unrealistic expectations of reality. Making viewers believe they are less than if their pictures do not compare to those on their Instagram feed. Our minds are impressionable and the content we choose to consume affects us whether it is apparent or not.

 

These impractical expectations developed can have a negative effect on those who view the content. A 2012 study presented to the Society for Personality and Social Psychologists (SPSP) found that when people think about the last friend request they received via Facebook, they gain an increased sense of belonging and social connectedness.

 

On the other hand, the study also found that once these friends were collected, viewing their status updates is saddening. When asked how they felt about their place in life and their achievements, those with many Facebook friends gave themselves lower marks if they’d recently viewed their friends’ status updates, compared with people who hadn’t recently scrolled down their Facebook feed.

 

Unhealthy Stress Levels

Social media plays a major factor in the growing rate of depression; however, high stress levels have also been attributed to mental illness such as anxiety and depression. Millennials and Gen Xers report the highest levels of stress per generation according to a study by the American Psychological Association. Millennials report 5.5 on a 10-point scale while Gen Xers report a 5.4. Baby Boomers (4.5) and Matures (3.5) come in at the lower end of the scale. According to a recent study the top five stress

Millennials incur are finances, lack of sleep, health, workload, and future of the county. With high levels of stress, healthy coping mechanisms are imperative. However, research shows Millennials rely on more sedentary stress management techniques than other generations. These techniques include listening to music, watching television for more than two hours per and surfing the Internet/going online.

 

Working towards a Solution

How do we change this cycle? It can be tough to withstand social comparisons as one scrolls down their media feed. It becomes easy to put yourself in a box thinking, “I need to be here by the time I’m 25.” Setting goals based on the timeline of others is unrealistic and unfair to yourself. Everyone’s path is different, and it may take you longer to reach your goals. It is important to be able to live in the moment and enjoy your journey. There is a thin line between being ambitious and being consumed, finding that balance is key. Along with a change of mindset, limiting social media intake is also a solution. Take a few days to step away from the app that consumes most of your attention and plug out. Day by day notice your “need” for social media dissolve. This is not to say social media consumption is unhealthy, but rather bring awareness to the need to mentally cleanse every so often.

 

Exercise, clean eating and fresh air are all also associated with mental wellness. These actions can definitely help with high stress levels and retaining mental wellness. It is important to always take the time to self-assess and reflect on your mental health. No one can take care of you like you can.

 

References

 

“Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Study Shows Surge in Major Depression Diagnoses.” Blue Cross Blue Shield. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2018.

Lee, Bruce Y. “Depression Diagnoses Up 33% (Up 47% Among Millennials): Why There Is An Upside.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 13 May 2018. Web. 09 Sept. 2018.

American Psychology Association. “Http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2014/stress-report.pdf.” N.p., n.d. Web.

Pappas, Stephanie. “Facebook With Care: Social Networking Site Can Hurt Self-Esteem.” LiveScience. Purch, 06 Feb. 2012. Web. 09 Sept. 2018.

Swns. “Millennials Spend Nearly 20 Percent of Their Year Stressed out.” New York Post. New York Post, 27 Sept. 2017. Web. 09 Sept. 2018.

 

Brooke Davis is a media planner and strategist. Her ability to analyze research while utilizing her professional judgement to make media recommendations, has become a great passion of hers. As the media industry is a forever changing and evolving, Davis prides herself on staying current on media consumption trends.
Davis is a graduate of Howard University’s School of Communications. She has earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations. She also holds a MBA with a concentration in finance from Mercy College.
Her love for writing is undeniable. She has learned to use her notable writing skills to enhance and strengthen a brand or company. Not only has Davis been exposed to the writing aspect of communications, but she worked within the broadcast and management spectrum of communications as well.

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