In the eyes of many, young people are a millstone around the neck of society, a parasite, and to be frank, something of a vile disease that does nothing but populate street corners ona Saturday night. Young people are disgraceful, lazy, rude and unintelligent. Apathetic and aimless, we wander around like zombies, unable to string any more than two coherent sentences together. Scaring old women and murdering adorable puppies – we are public enemy number one. I know, young people have been written to death, but, I am going to make like the millennial I am and say that it is in fact my responsibility as the voice of my generation (or perhaps a voice of a generation?), to proclaim that perhaps it’s about time young people were cut some slack.
Recently, there’s been a barrage of pieces written about how “millennials can’t grow up” and that young people are “so narcissistic they don’t stand a chance” – these pieces are becoming so influential that we’re even beginning to turn on ourselves. Lately, we’ve seen aninflux in pieces written by self-identifying millennials describing anxiety as an epidemic sweeping through our generation. As I read these articles I can’t help but find myself laughing at how harsh and ridiculous they are, but also asking if the resilience of young people is so greatly underrated that we’re even struggling to notice it ourselves?But, we can’t compare alarming statistics like how 65% of young people nowadays feel as if they have poor mental health with how it was for our parents or grandparents – that’s because researchers weren’t particularly good at collecting that sort of data back then. So, where does the idea that 65% of young people possess declining mental health even come from? Most people get the impression that it’s because young people are so full of angst – but, that’s not new. Unlike, past generations, we just like to broadcast our angst.
It can be said, however, that we do have legitimate things to be concerned about – like the uncertainty of our own future.When we consider the statistic that 65% of young people consider their mental health as average or below, it’s important to realise that despite all our underrated resilience, young people find it notoriously difficult to understand that stress doesn’t necessarily equate to depression. Depression is a biologically and psychologically driven form of mental illness that is incredibly common, but is not always experienced by everyone who is experiencing distress. In any case, we are doing some things right when it comes to mental health. Nowadays, young people are generally more comfortable discussing their mental health, which helps to reduce the stigma, meaning more people who need help and care are getting it. What makesmental health worse though, is not being able to talk about it, and the feeling of being in it all alone.
Perhaps it’s time we stop our fear of people ‘not understanding’ from inhibiting our abilities to start talking. If the lie is that mental health is something we can’t talk about, then with discussing this statistic we certainly saw the truth. The truth is that the stigma surrounding mental health begins to break once we start talking.
Slowly but surely, we are beginning to see change. Students in classrooms are using their voices. Musicians and actors are doing the same online. People are using whatever influence possible to talk about change.