When discussing the rise of mental health problems in young people (at least in the UK), a lot of attention is often given to factors such as the use of social media and the role of the internet. However, I feel like other issues that are directly impacting millennials and their mental health seem to always get brushed off and ignored.
I am a millennial and I suffer from mental health problems. A large percentage of my friends around the same age also suffer with different mental health issues. I think to put this solely down to social media is simplifying the problem. There are a lot of new pressures young people face that contribute to mental health that are often over looked.
Firstly, fees for higher education have increased significantly in the UK in the past decade. When my mum went to university it was free, in fact they actually give her money to live off which never had to be paid back. However, Since 2012 most universities in the UK have raised their tuition fees to £9,000 a year, with most courses lasting three to four years. On top of this, students, in most cases, also have to borrow money to live off. There is a system in place to provide loans for these costs, however they have ridiculously high interest rates and most people know they will never fully be able to pay all this debt off in their lifetime. Therefore most young adults come out of university with around £30,000 pound in debt already hanging over their heads.
Not only does this add stress and pressure on young people that have attended university but it also discourages others who want to go from attending. These young people then have less opportunities to go into a career they truly want and often get stuck in 9-5 jobs they aren’t interested in or even worse…zero hour contracts. For those who don’t know what a zero-hour contract is, it is a contract in which employers are not obliged to provide any minimum working hours for their employees. As a result workers on this type of contract are often left in limbo, not knowing when they will next get work and with no fixed income. These types of contracts have been increasing drastically over the past decade. In the UK the number of people on this type of contract increased by 100,000 in the year 2017 alone.
Even when young people do manage to get a degree they are not guaranteed a good job, as there are fewer and fewer opportunities. Many millennials who have attended university often end up in the same position as those who do not , working dead end jobs on minimum wage that they do not enjoy.
Housing is also a big issue effecting younger generations. It is far harder to move into your own place now than it was in my parents generation, for a number of different reasons. Rent has skyrocketed. Less social houses are being built, and most people spend years on the the waiting list before they ever actually get to live in one. Most young people don’t have enough money saved to get a mortgage, especially not when they are also trying to pay off their student debt. This is leaving a generation of adults still living with their parents. Recent reports have found the number of adults living with their parents has increased from 2.4 million to 3.4 million in just twenty years.
I believe these factors help contribute to a culture of hopelessness among many millennials. Parents often tell us that they had grown up and taken responsibility by the time they were our age, not realising that there is nothing we can find to take responsibility for. The economic climate of debt and the decline in jobs and housing have denied most of us of the responsibility we could’ve taken. This has left us with a society of young adults who often self medicate on weekends with partying, drink and drugs because there isn’t really anything else to look forward to or hope for.
Until societal problems like these have been addressed we will be left with a generation of 20 something kids with no direction, living in the shadows, who don’t know when the party ends and don’t want to.