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- Millennials are helping to destigmatize two taboo topics in hopes of eliciting change: money and mental health.
- As they struggle with both of these things, millennials have become more likely than their parents to discuss them with their peers.
- Social media has made millennials more open with their lives in general, and they in turn use it as a platform for discussing these issues.
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Money and mental health: Two topics that can be kinda, sorta uncomfortable to discuss.
But that’s not the case for many millennials. While their parents may have been more closed off about discussing these taboos, the younger generation is helping to destigmatize them. Whether it’s salary, debt, depression, or anxiety, millennials are much more likely to share it all.
Why? Millennials are struggling with both money and mental health: They have less of the former, and more issues with the latter than previous generations did.
And they realize that to do something about it, they need to talk about it.
Millennials are more willing to share salary and student debt details
“It’s a generation that’s much more comfortable turning to others for help and their perspective on things,” eMoney Advisor CEO O’Brien told The New York Post. And it makes total sense, considering millennials’ financial status relative to the rest of the world.
The generation is shouldering massive amounts of student debt and still playing financial catch up from the recession. Couple that with rising living costs that are surpassing income increases (the latter has only grown by $29 for young adults since 1974) and you’ve got a bad recipe for building wealth. It explains why several studies show that millennials hold less wealth than previous generations did at their age.
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But millennials realize they can get ahead by talking about their financial situations with others. They turn to their friends and coworkers to discuss salary so they can ensure they’re getting paid enough. They share their struggles with student debt with the world so others are aware of its weight. They want to hear about how their peers were able to afford to buy a house so that they can put this advice in action for themselves.
Look no further for proof of this than the increasing number of voyeuristic shows and content series taking on the topic of finance, from Refinery29’s Money Diaries to the Ashton Kutcher-produced “Going From Broke,” a reality TV series that tackles student debt.
There’s also the effect of social media: It’s easier than ever to display signs of wealth, from an Instagram photo of a trip to Bali or a shot of a new car. “Given that you’re already revealing all of that, I think that revealing what your salary is may not seem like a big deal,” Ricardo Perez-Truglia, an assistant professor of economics at University of California Los Angeles, told Bankrate.
Millennials are addressing the decline in their mental health
Money stress has been linked to the decline in mental health among millennials.
Numerous studies have found that an increasing number of millennials are experiencing depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and burnout. A recent Blue Cross Blue Shield report found that millennials are seeing their physical and mental health decline at a faster rate than Gen X is as they age; without proper management or treatment, millennials could see a 40% uptick in mortality compared with Gen Xers of the same age.
It’s a good thing, then, that the generation is addressing these issues head-on by helping to destigmatize therapy. It’s why Dr. Peggy Drexler, a psychologist, dubbed millennials “the therapy generation” in an essay for The Wall Street Journal.
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Millennials, she said, see therapy as a form of self-improvement. “Raised by parents who openly went to therapy themselves and who sent their children as well, today’s 20- and 30-somethings turn to therapy sooner and with fewer reservations than young people did in previous eras,” she wrote.
She cited a 2018 Blue Cross Blue Shield report that found the rise in depression diagnoses among those ages 18 to 34 is largely because more young adults are seeking help for mental health.
But millennials aren’t just more likely to go to therapy – they’re also more likely to talk about it and the issues that brought them there, whether by addressing burnout in the workplace or the medication they’re taking for anxiety.
Again, social media plays a role. Celebrities such as Demi Lovato and Lady Gaga, who have been open about their depression struggles, and conversations online have also helped normalize therapy, Drexler wrote. It’s all inspiring more people to attend therapy.
Millennials recognize the power of transparency
Living a life online has already fostered a sense of openness for millennials. It’s become second nature for the generation to share with others something as simple as a photo, which in turn makes it even easier to be open about topics that were once considered uncomfortable. For them, talking about things like money and mental health are the norm, not something that carries a stigma.
Whether they’re having these conversations online or off, millennials are recognizing the power of transparency in eliciting change. Want a raise in light of a paltry increase in wages? Want to know how to pay off student debt? Want to not feel alone with depression?
The best thing you can do to change it, according to a millennial, is talk about it.