Millennials: The Therapy Generation
If you were born between the ages of 1981 and 1996, you are a millennial. This also means that most millennials have parents who were in the baby boomer generation [born between 1946 and 1964]. The baby boomer generation was defined by the ending of the Second World War in 1945.
Who are millennials?
Baby boomers enjoyed an era of post-war economic growth. For example, today only one-third of millennials own their own home, whereas two-thirds of baby boomers owned their own home at the same age.
What problems do they face today?
Millennials face a level of lifelong insecurity that their parents might not be able to comprehend.
Millennials are one of the first generations who might never match or surpass their parents’ careers and salaries, and they may never own their own home.
All of this might be contributing to the high levels of anxiety and depression experienced by those that fall into the millennial generation. There is a sense that if you stop moving forward, stop working, or stop pushing yourself, you will fall behind. There just isn’t the level of financial stability that would allow millennials to feel like they can slow down.
Another explanation is that millennials are, more than ever, working for themselves, freelancing, and working on contracts. Fewer and fewer people are working the typical 9-5, Monday to Friday career. Working for yourself can allow you the flexibility to work when you want and from where you wish, however it also takes away the basic perks of a salaried job such as paid annual leave and sick pay. Many are lucky enough to be successful in working for themselves, however, on the journey to that point, there is a lot of pressure and uncertainty which can lead to high levels of anxiety and stress-related issues.
Are they the therapy generation?
Millennials have been described as the ‘therapy generation’. The majority of them have grown up with the idea that mental health is normal, is on a spectrum, and should be talked about. Many government campaigns have lead to this outcome, such as Time to Change, which focuses on diminishing mental health stigma.
The explosion of social media and the internet, in general, has helped to facilitate this conversation, with many feeling more confident to talk about their mental health via social media platforms and in online chatrooms as it provides them with the anonymity and distance to feel safe in sharing such intimate details.
Millennials are also a generation that are heavily interested and invested in self-improvement. We are a generation obsessed with tracking our progress and our health through the use of apps on our phone, smart watches, even hand-drawn habit trackers. We want to know how other people live, how the successful people live, and emulate them - and very often we have seemingly unfettered access to such information via interviews published online, celebrities sharing their lives via youtube and other social media platforms, and so-called gurus sharing their keys to success and happiness.
What are millennials seeking?
Many people that fall into the millennial generation seem to be seeking out some form of therapy, life coaching, or mentoring - it seems that millennials are perhaps after some form of guidance or structure as they progress through life.
There is perhaps something about the lack of certainty that they have experienced in their early adult years that pushes them to seem some support from an outside agency. Someone who can hold a space for them while they try to figure out their next steps, someone who can shine a light on the next steps and how to proceed through the next steps. Someone who has been on the same path and succeeded. A therapist, life coach, and mentor, respectively.