The world united this week for World Mental Health Day to recognise mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. The event takes place every year on 10 October and is supported by the United Nations.
The theme for this year was “Young people and mental health in a changing world”, so in this article we turn our attention to the rise of mental health issues in the workplace among millennials.
Millennials at Work
The way we work has changed dramatically over recent years, and, with millennials set to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025 (Deloitte Millennial Survey), will evolve even further. However, with this changing landscape comes an increase in mental health issues. Millennials are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide than generations past.
Earlier this year, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) in the UK conducted a survey of more than 4,500 people regarding stress in the workplace. It found that millennials felt more under pressure at work than older generations, with 28% reporting stress-related illness.
Cause and Effect
There are several potential reasons why millennials seem to be particularly prone to mental health issues, including:
A recent study from the Psychological Bulletin found that millennials have “multidimensional perfectionism” meaning they feel pressure to measure up to an ever-growing number of criteria. By striving to reach impossible standards they increase the risk of mental health issues. In the workplace, this can be exemplified by a feeling that they are not being given the recognition, and promotions, that they feel they deserve.
Research suggest that millennials check their phones up to 150 times a day! This excessive use of their phones, means they allow themselves less time to “switch off”, which can be detrimental to their health. This reliance on their phones becomes a form of addiction—they feel they need to constantly check what is happening in the digital world for fear of missing out.
Millennials have lower employment rates due to increasing competition for entry-level positions. Many new graduates also carry the burden of large student loan debts. Millennials are also less likely to own a home than previous generations at the same age.
Advice to Millennials
So, without wanting to come across too preachy, here is some advice for millennials:
Be comfortable in your own skin
Social media has created an unhealthy culture of perfectionism where people can now airbrush their lives to create flawless photos. But it’s not real. By idealising other people’s lives on social media you are setting yourself unrealistic goals and inevitably setting yourself up for a fall.
The same is true in the workplace. No-one expects you to be 100% perfect, 100% of the time. Making, and admitting, mistakes is a necessary part of learning and will make you stronger.
You don’t have to compare yourself to other people–accepting who you are is a positive step towards happiness.
Learn the art of patience
It is often said that millennials live in a world of instant gratification—everything they need is “on demand”. This can have a negative impact on their professional lives as they may feel they are entitled to a promotion, pay rise or business trip, but are disappointed when it doesn’t materialise.
You don’t need to get everything you want right now. Working hard to achieve your goals will give you a greater sense of fulfilment in the long term.
Cut down on your screen time
Constantly checking your phone at work can lead to loss of productivity and work-related stress. If we take smartphone usage as a form of addiction, then, like other addictions, it can be overcome with the right approach. While a full digital detox simply isn’t practical for most people, there are several things you can do to help you be present in the moment.
- Limit yourself. Set strict boundaries on your smartphone usage at work so that you only use it on your break time.
- Turn your unimportant notifications off. Your world will not stop if you don’t check the notifications within 10 seconds of receiving it.
- Look up more. Do you really need to walk and text or can you enjoy your surroundings with your phone in your pocket?
For more ideas on cutting down your screen time, check out this article.
Have conversations with older generations
It may be a cliché , but millennials can learn a lot from older generations—everything in this article and more.
In a professional capacity, one of the best ways to learn from older generations is by finding a good mentor. Life in the digital age brings improved connectivity that’s conducive to building supportive online communities for tacit knowledge sharing and professional networking. There is a huge array of business productivity apps that can matchmake young professionals with industry mentors looking for career advice, eg apps like Woomentum, Shapr and Unibly.
These tips are not exhaustive, but hopefully will help you on the path to mental wellness in the workplace. To find out more about our mental wellness initiatives, get in touch with the WellteQ team.