In honor of World Mental Health Day, Business Insider ran a piece today highlighting the ongoing mental health crisis for millennials. Facing low wages, fewer jobs, burnout, and loneliness, this is a generation that faces increased anxiety and depression. One of the most upsetting statistics in the article centers on “deaths of despair,” otherwise known as deaths related to drugs, alcohol abuse, and suicide, which are on the rise for many Americans. Nearly 36,000 millennials died from these causes in 2017.
The question becomes, as we look at these statistics, what can be done to reverse this? The solutions aren’t as simple as therapy and medication. Low wages and no benefits mean that not everyone can afford to get the treatment they deserve, and irregular hours at certain jobs can also negatively impact millennials’ ability to seek regular treatment. 38% of workers polled said they felt discriminated against because of their mental illnesses or mental state.
Millennials are hard at work de-stigmatizing mental illness by being open about their struggles on social media though, which does make a small difference. By de-stigmatizing the fight against mental illness, it encourages others to get help. Perhaps more importantly, by normalizing mental health treatment it can encourage the conversation to be more about living with illness rather than just surviving with it.
Self-care, treatment, and medication all are important steps towards healing, but it also doesn’t help that the news cycle is constantly bringing us fresh hell on what seems to be an hourly basis. The world is quite literally on fire. It is hard to keep a positive attitude when it seems as though everything is unending and hopeless. I know this intimately, thanks to my own struggles with depression, anxiety, and bipolar 2.
Outside of massive social change, there’s little we can do to fight the low wages and long hours that drag millennials into burnout and depression. But maybe by talking about it, we can take steps in the right direction. If we address our own needs and embrace the needs others have, we can help each other move forward and heal and live. That’s the most important part of all of this. We need to help each other, as naïve and childish as that sounds.
This is why talking about it matters so much. We share our stories, we help others, and we move forward. Talking about it makes it normal and allows not only us to ask for help but for others to see that they can ask for help too.
To quote Carrie Fisher from a column she wrote in 2016, “We have been given a challenging illness, and there is no other option than to meet those challenges. Think of it as an opportunity to be heroic—not ‘I survived living in Mosul during an attack’ heroic, but an emotional survival. An opportunity to be a good example to others who might share our disorder.”
If we rise to meet the challenges set before us and not only scale mountains ourselves but help others, we’re going to be ready to change the world so that these challenges don’t drag anyone else down.
(image: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Wizard World)
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