Millennials are facing a mental health crisis, and it was entirely preventable

03/02/2017 07:51 am ET

Maybe every generation gets called lazy by the ones that came before, and maybe with the rise of social media, hearing such criticism is just even more inevitable. However, the labels of snowflakes and the idea that millennials need to try harder is as lacking in facts as one of Donald Trump's tweets.

Studies show that globally, millennials are putting in the hours. In fact, we're downright tied to our careers and that's no different in the UK. Social media again has crept in to distort our lives, and killed any downtime we might have enjoyed. It's hard to put off replying to a work email until after the weekend when your boss or colleagues know your phone will be flashing, particularly if they can see you tweeting or on Facebook. It’s created a culture where there now exists a pressure to work and to answer each little email or query even on our time off - and it all adds up.

We were the generation that were told we could be anything we wanted, just so long as we tried hard enough. It's easy to see why our parents pushed us so hard (and they were the ones who couldn’t bear the thought of their kids not being good enough); they lived through the fears of recession and poverty in the 70s and 80s and wanted a better world for us. Education standards rose, as did living standards, and we seemed on the cusp of a world heading into a golden era - but the rug was pulled from underneath us.

A generation of politicians that benefitted from free higher education (and the majority MPs could access OxBridge or Eton) chose to introduce university fees, led by the man who pledged to invest in aspiration. Blair told us we could aspire, but only if we were willing to pay a price and put up with potentially decades worth of debt. The Liberal Democrat betrayal over university fees followed over a decade later and in that time, the rental sector had gotten out of control particularly in London and urban areas, which are also known as the areas where most of the jobs are. A degree now will usually get you an entry level job at a fast food joint, and inflation is rising which is putting a greater squeeze on the limited money we do have.

The support network has also been slashed away. Thatcher’s mass privatisation of housing, caused a shift from secure and affordable property to the prices of rented accommodation sky rocketing. Landlords have a bare minimum of standards to meet for housing to be deemed acceptable. The balance of power is such that renters are expected to pay overwhelmingly for the little they’re offered. Research from 2014 by the IPPR North showed that private rental properties were the most expensive and yet they were in the worst condition. Interest rates have remained low since the credit crunch, and so even employed working young adults cannot begin to start saving to purchase a property (which is usually at a staggering price). Social security has been slashed under the Tory government at a time when businesses have struggled. There was once a dream to get all young people in employment and education but when employers are struggling and higher education costs thousands, then what are young adults supposed to do?

The pressure on generation millennial has taken its toll so those who are in work feel they have to work all hours to have any sort of job security or potentially move up the ladder. Employment rights are few and far between, and many young people in the workforce are fearful of disclosing their disability or asking for more or less hours in case their employer takes it out on them. Simply put, generation millennial are being held hostages for any low pay they can get.

It's not hard to see why this would cause an anxiety crisis among our generation. Anxiety isn't just the fear of leaving the house, it can also be a fear of not performing constantly in case people think you're a failure. When society writes off millennials, they do so at the cost of the mental health of a generation.

We can't switch off. We're behind where we were supposed to be in life, we've not lived up to our parents hopes. If we take time off our boss might fire us, and if we don't get the top degree then we've got thousands of pounds worth of debt for nothing when the job market is so competitive. We're not a snowflake generation, we're dealing with more pressures than our parents ever wanted us to face and we're battling through it every day while the government isn't even looking in our direction. They’re too busy blaming migrants to start to tackle the actual issues in society.

The government hasn't realised yet that it's staked its future on our success. We have an ageing population, the social care budget isn't getting anywhere near the funding it requires, and the government is obsessed with cutting migration which means less people to pay into the economy. The burden of debt accumulated by poor economic decisions will largely be passed onto us. We're going to have to carry a society that will have a significant amount of the population in retirement while we receive less support. God knows what our generation will even be able to retire, or if our own pensions will be enough to survive on.

If our generation cannot take the helm in the future then the economy will largely go through the same stagnation Japan went through with an ageing population, low birth rate and low immigration. We're not asking for things to be easy, we're asking for recognition. Our generation is experiencing overwork, over stress and major mental health problems largely because of decades of mismanagement by successive governments. Uncertain financial futures and experiencing pressure from all sides is creating a mental health crisis that was always avoidable. Invest in our futures if the UK is to succeed. Support generation millennial if you want all generations to thrive.

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