Millennials and mental health in the modern workplace

Millennials and mental health in the modern workplace

Last month saw world mental health day and, as a millennial, it got me thinking about how the modern work force can better support my generation’s wellbeing.

Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce yet, with one in five young workers experiencing illnesses such as depression and anxiety, millennials are reporting mental health problems more so than any previous generation.

Contrary to the popular notion of the ‘lazy’ and ‘entitled’ millennial, this generation is more aligned with others when it comes to the need for job satisfaction and contentment in the workplace. As the Mental Health Foundation presents the pressures of an increasingly demanding work culture as the biggest challenge to our mental health, it is perhaps unsurprising to note that millennials are reporting higher rates of depression than any other generation. Whilst young workers are predicted to change jobs up to 15 – 20 times in their working lives, research shows that this group of employees simply prioritise fulfilling employment and stable mental health

As mental health is becoming vastly discussed in today’s society, we’re seeing a positive impact on the number of people opening up about their illnesses. However, research released by Legal and General shows that as little as 1 in 10 employees feel that they can open up to their line manager about a mental health issue – leaving the remaining 9 out of 10 employees unable to seek support for their illness.

Subsequently, according to a recent government report, around 300,000 people are losing their jobs each year due to mental illness – resulting in a loss in productivity and a massive toll on the economy.

 

Subsequently, according to a recent government report, around 300,000 people are losing their jobs each year due to mental illness – resulting in a loss in productivity and a massive toll on the economy.

With these alarming facts, it is evident that we have an obligation to promote mental wellbeing and create environments in which employees feel safe and comfortable to open up. Equally, with insights such as these, it is no surprise that improving mental health will also have a wider impact on the success of businesses.

Because of this, an increasing number of businesses are encouraging their employees to be healthy and emotionally resilient. Many have introduced a range of mental health initiatives spanning mindfulness, pilates and resilience training on how to manage stress and busy workloads. Poppy Jaman, CEO of Mental Health First Aid England, says, “Engaging senior leaders is a great first step, however providing staff, and in particular line managers, with some form of training in mental health should be a core part of an effective workplace wellbeing strategy.”

Business consulting firm (and MSL client), EY, launched its latest mental health programme by asking the simple question: ‘Are you okay?’ The programme – officially titled “r u ok?” – aims to end the stigma surrounding mental health by connecting employees to existing resources within the organisation. The programme includes employee champions, presentations on mental health, virtual events, e-learning modules, peer-to-peer connections and follow up services such as EY Assist. The company has seen great success since launching the programme, with a 30.2% increase in calls to their EY Assist line pertaining to mental health.

Implementing these types of strategies in the workplace will help to strengthen the young workforce. And with the first baby boomers at retirement age, it will ensure that employers do not lose the strong millennial talent that is a driving force of the future. It is important to think of the work culture we have created and what we want it to look like for future generations.

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