Everyone loves to talk about how entitled millennials are: how easy they have it compared to previous generations, and how little responsibility they take for their actions. But it turns out, their lives aren’t so easy after all. Millennials reportedly suffer more from stress and depression than any other generation—and in particular, millennial women are the most affected.
Stress and Depression Statistics
Around 19% of millennials report that they suffer from some form of depression. Comparatively, only 14% of Generation X, 12% of Baby Boomers, and 11% of seniors have it. Furthermore, adult millennials have higher stress levels. A level of 3.6 out of 10 is considered to be healthy, while the average stress level for people aged 18-33 is around 5.4 out of 10.
Furthermore, both stress and depression levels are going up at a higher rate for millennials than they are for any other generation. And millennial women have it worst of all, particularly in the workplace. They’ve been found to be far more likely to burn out at their jobs than men are. Their stress levels at work are higher, while their salaries and rates of promotion are statistically lower.
Meanwhile, an estimated 45% of mental health problems in this country go untreated—which could be, at least in part, why they’re getting worse.
So why are millennials more depressed than any other generation? They may not actually be. They may just be more aware of it. More of them are taught about depression and its symptoms in high school and college, and there’s less stigma against mental health problems now than there was in previous generations. This helps millennials to better recognize their depression and admit it to themselves and others more easily. Unfortunately, since the stigma still exists in previous generations, it can cause problems in dealing with that stress and depression, particularly in the workplace.
Stress and Depression in the Workplace
One way to nip depression in the bud is to take a mental health day. Taking the day off from work to focus on self-care can keep the problem from getting bigger and causing a full breakdown, down the road.
Of course, these mental health days can be detrimental to employers. Absenteeism due to depression costs the U.S. economy over $51 billion a year. For this reason, a lot of employers are reluctant to grant time off for mental or emotional reasons, which creates a stigma against mental illness in the workplace.
However, this stigma may actually be costing employers more in the long run. A lot of millennials are reluctant to take mental health days, even when they really need them. Instead, they come in to work, and their productivity suffers. Or they’re made to feel guilty about taking the day off. Those feelings of guilt then end up preventing recovery, and the day off does no good.
How Employers Can Handle Depression
Overcoming the stigma against depression would, in fact, be both helpful and profitable for employers. By learning to recognize the signs of depression, they can make an effort to help their employees reduce stress before they need to take a mental health day.
They can also be aware of their own behaviors that cause stress in their employees: things like sending e-mails even after the workday is through, or micromanaging and being overly critical. And yes, they should be willing to allow their employees a mental health day on occasion, if they need it. Better one day off to recover than an increasingly poor work performance, followed by a mental breakdown.
By working with their employees to manage stress and reduce depression, they can create a happier and healthier work environment overall. This will in turn reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, and make everyone’s lives better.