Mental and Emotional Wellness of Millennials: Myths & Realities

Millennials

“Its not an exaggeration to say that different generations may see the same behaviours or dynamics in the workplace and perceive completely different things, whether positive or negative “-Crystal Kadakia (Writer, The Millennial Myth)
The term ‘Millennials’ refers broadly to those individuals who were born in the 1980s until the turn of the millennium in 2000. The number of millennials in the workforce has increased gradually over the years, and today, more millennials than ever before are a part of the workforce.
A growing body of literature suggests that millennials are distinctly different from previous generations. While this could be in part be attributed to generational differences, a significant amount of commentary suggests that millennials are inherently flawed, emotionally fragile, disloyal in relationships, and closed to feedback. Moreover, all millennials are considered to be alike. These notions, however, are unsubstantiated hypotheses at best.
At 1to1help.net, we have a vast experience of interacting with millennial employees in the corporate world, across industries, and different parts of the country for over 17 years. Using our data for the last 3 years (2014-17), we tried to evaluate the myths and realities related to ‘counselling and behaviour’ in the millennial population and check whether the following popular opinions held about millennials hold true in the Indian context:

  • All Millennials are alike
  • Millennial are self-centred and do not value relationships
  • Millennials have an inflated sense of self and think they’re perfect
  • Millennials are closed to feedback

The key findings suggest that

  • Millennials, across gender and age, are a heterogeneous group, with significant

differences in the level of seeking help and issues/concerns related to mental health

  • Female millennials have significantly different concerns and a higher risk of suicidal

ideation as compared to male millennials

  • In the digital age of friendships, millennials are increasingly feeling ‘more lonely’ and

vulnerable and are looking for stable relationships

  • Millennials continuously want to improve themselves and are actively looking for

feedback on improving self
We also evaluated the managerial perspective providing key insights into what they believe are the biggest stressors for millennials at the workplace, the impact of these stressors, and the strategies employed by them to address these stressors.
Though, it is widely believed that millennial employees desire greater validation and feedback from their managers,and the lack of the same is often the reason why they may feel dissatisfied at the workplace, managers themselves believe that well-defined roles and goals, and clearer working priorities are the answer.
Response to the question on the key ‘Go-to strategy’ to address employee distress, Managers recognize EAP as the option, but more than half the managers have a one-on-one conversation with a distressed employee as the first response. Only 1 out of 10 managers mentioned that they make a referral to EAP in such cases.
Managers are still looking at only work-performance, and workplace solutions to address distress amongst millennials at the workplace; while our data shows that the 85% of the concerns according to millennials are personal in nature, and most millennials having an elevated level of distress, thereby warranting professional attention.
Given the trends, organizations need to take cognizance of the changes in policy formulation to ensure a differential focus on mental wellness, leading to higher engagement and productivity at workplace. Some of the key focus areas for organizations leading to a positive change at the workplace can be:

  1. Spread awareness about mental wellness at workplace through ‘Walk the Talk’ sessions and enable response mechanisms like EAP, wellness sessions
  2. Identify wellness trends in groups and subgroups specifically based on gender, age, location, business units etc. Plan and conduct Group & subgroup level intervention
  3. Train Managers to provide feedback in the ‘right’ way leading to positive change
  4. Train Managers on basic skills of counselling to enable them to provide an adequate first response in case of a distressed employee
  5. Provide adequate opportunities to an employee to manage his/her personal wellbeing

Through this article (and a detailed published white paper) we do wish to highlight gaps, if any, between the popular understanding of millennials, and the concerns that millennials brought forth to a counselling setting. We believe this will initiate more intentional, objective attempts to understand the concerns related to mental health of working millennials and will enable organizations and managers to identify strategies for their overall well-being.
About the Author
Archana Bisht is the founder of 1to1Help.net, India’s leading professional counselling and wellness services firm. Archana was instrumental in pioneering the concept of Online Counselling in India which found a wider acceptance, especially in the IT & ITES industry in India. She is a passionate long-distance runner and is also involved in multiple initiatives, across Bangalore, focused on ensuring a better environment.

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