How Mental Illness Affects Millennials and Generation Z

The COVID-19 pandemic has led mental health disorders to the foreground of the public’s awareness. However, mental health in young adults was a huge challenge before the pandemic as well. A survey showed that many millennial and Gen Z workers continually experienced stress and anxiety, common factors contributing to mental health disorders even before the pandemic hit. 

mental health in young adults

However, stress levels fell for both generations in another second survey conducted between April and May 2020, likely due to the increase of working remotely and confinement. Regardless of the minor decline in anxiety during the pandemic, both surveys confirm that young people are very stressed. And frequently, they will turn to drugs and alcohol to relieve their mental health disorder.

Millennials and Gen Z demographics experience uncomfortably high levels of unhappiness and tension and are likely byproducts of the turmoil and sadness. Climate change, family welfare, financial stability, and health care were recognized as tremendous concerns before the pandemic. 

Low work/life balance and the failure to be their authentic selves also weighed on these generations. Because millennials and Gen Zs together account for most of the global workforce, their mental health disorders present an immense challenge for employers worldwide.

Who are Millennials?

Millennials are the demographic of people who followed Generation X and leading Generation Z. Popular media and researchers use the early 1980s as beginning birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as closing birth years as the defining range for the millennial generation. Most millennials are the kids of baby boomers and Generation Xers and often the parents of Generation Alpha.

The millennial generation is usually marked by mobile devices’ familiarity, high usage of the internet, and social media, which is why they are sometimes labeled digital citizens. The coronavirus and Great Recession have significantly impacted this generation because they’ve created historically high unemployment levels among millennials. Economic growth and youth unemployment usually are negatively correlated, meaning millennial workers have it worse than their elders through a recession.

Who is Generation Z?

Generation Z is the next future generation to look out for, born with the internet, smartphones, and technology directly at their fingertips. Demographers and experts state that Generation Z is the group of children born from 1997 to 2012, with the end year highly debated as those people age. 

Gen Z accounts for about 61 million people across the nation. Gen Z grew up differently than the past generation, thus living vastly different lives and expectations for the future.

The Difference Between Millennials and Generation Z

Millennials have characteristics that differ from Generation Z in distinct ways. Gen Z is more driven about financing school than millennials. They convert their hobbies into jobs or aspire to start their own business while remaining focused on not accruing debt.

They are remarkably more concentrated on tech, spending at least three hours a day on technology following school-related activities. They also have much more tech in their hand than millennials do. People from Gen Z use four screens or more and spend more time on a variety of apps. They also communicate almost only by using technology and social media.

Gen Z people differ from millennials, essentially due to the unpredictable times in which they were raised. Throughout the Great Recession and post-9/11, Gen Z developed quickly for their age while staying focused on their goals. They are also less focused on social justice than millennials, less worried about society’s future, and more about their futures. However, as Gen Z ages, these elements are subject to change.

Addressing Mental Health in Young Adults Through Social Media

mental health in young adults

Research implies that people frequently use social media for emotional support to prevent and discuss mental health in young adults. This is particularly relevant for those in minority groups, including the LGBTQ+ community, the disabled, and people of color (POC). Social media helps develop online digital communities with others who share similar features, making it extremely powerful. 

Social media platforms allow young people to share their creative content and express their passions and interests with others. This can help strengthen a positive identity among millennials and Gen Z by providing them with numerous opportunities to experiment with different interests. This is especially important for young people who reside in rural communities who find it more challenging to generate social relationships in the offline world.

Engaging in online networks grants them the opportunity to meet with others who share their identity, gain mutual advice and support, and obtain solidarity. These networks can reduce feelings of loneliness while supporting the development of personal, positive identity. They can also help young people become more resilient to conflicting situations, helping them remain healthy mentally.

Mental Health Statistics for Millennials and Generation Z

Millennials and Mental Health

  • A survey in 2015 conducted from 900 millennials showed that nearly half stated that they don’t believe people their age know where to obtain care for mental health in young adults, with more than half indicating the cost as a principal challenge.
  • A survey in 2015 conducted from 900 millennials showed that 85% stated they wouldn’t have a problem working with or befriending someone with a mental health disorder. That same survey showed that more than 60% would date someone with a mental health disorder. While less than 50% aren’t willing to confess to their friends, more than 70% of millennials are comfortable seeing a therapist or counselor. More than 50% of millennials declared they’d vote for someone with a mental health disorder. Also, approximately 75% of millennials say they’re willing to discuss topics of mental health. 
  • Major depression had grown the largest in prevalence among the top 10 mental health disorders affecting millennials. Additionally, millennial women are 20% less healthy than men, with major depression being the main factor.
  • A survey conducted that only 49% of millennials believed their mental health as excellent or good. 
  • Nearly 75% of millennials believe mental health therapy requires change.

Generation Z and Mental Health

  • Reports have revealed that 27% of Generation Z is significantly more probable than other generations, including 15% of millennials and 13% of Generation X, to describe their mental health as poor or fair at best.
  • Reports showed that 37% of Generation Z and 35% of millennials had received therapy from a mental health specialist. Compared with 22% of baby boomers, 26% of Generation X, and 15% of mature adults. 
  • More than 9 out of 10 Generation Z adults declared they had experienced at least one emotional or physical symptom due to stress because of feeling sad or depressed or lacking energy, motivation, or interest. Only 50% of all Generation Zs believe they can manage their stress.
  • Over 30% of Generation Zs stress about personal debt and housing instability and three in ten worry about hunger or getting enough to eat.
  • Approximately 75% of Generation Z members believe that mass shootings are a significant stress source. 
  • Nearly 57% of Generation Z vs. 45% of all adults are also more stressed about news issues like the detachment and deportation of migrant and immigrant families, along with sexual harassment and assault.

The Link Between Mental Health and Substance Abuse with Millennials

Millennials and mental health illness along with the incapability to deal with its symptoms is a well-known risk factor for substance abuse. The younger generation usually use drugs and alcohol as a self-medicating mechanism for mental illness in young adults. The most prevalent illnesses among millennials and mental health are depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and attention-deficit disorder. 

Sadly, substance abuse usually worsens mental illness in young adults because of brain changes generated by drugs and alcohol. Worsening mental illness can lead to more massive drug abuse, which can cause addiction. Studies have shown that one-third of people with any severe mental illness also suffer from substance addiction. Conversely, one-third of those who are alcoholics and are addicted to drugs also have a mental illness. 

Addiction to Technology

Millennials’ dependence on technology could also enhance the risk of developing a substance addiction. One study showed that college women spend about 10 hours each day on their phones, while males spend approximately eight. This extreme cell phone usage can result in a behavioral addiction that leaves millennials highly vulnerable to other addictive behaviors.

Substance Abuse Treatment for Millennials and Gen Z 

mental health in young adults

Young adults have the largest addiction treatment rate of any different age group. Millennials aged between 20 and 29 account for nearly 30 percent of substance abuse treatments. By contrast, Gen Xers aged between 35 and 39 account for 11 percent of substance abuse treatment.

So why are millennials more likely to enter rehab for young adults? One reason is the close relationship millennials have with their family. Gen X parents of addicted children are likely to do whatever is needed to ensure their child gets addiction treatment. 

Another reason could be the millennials’ attitudes toward substance abuse treatment. They are less inclined than older adults to disgrace addiction and mental health in young adults while maintaining better drug use attitudes in general. This helps eliminate morality from the equation, making millennials less ashamed or embarrassed about receiving addiction treatment. 

Either way, it’s crucial to understand that overall, less than 10 percent of US citizens who suffer from substance addiction receive the treatment they need to get better and stay sober long-term.

Getting Help For Mental Illness

If you or a loved one is a young adult suffering from mental health disorders, help is available. At Harmony Ridge Recovery Center, we can treat substance addiction and mental health disorders with our comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment.

Substance addiction and mental health in young adults is a pressing issue that must be treated to overcome it. Don’t wait. Contact us today here at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center and allow intake staff to answer the questions you have so you can get the help needed.

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