anxiety among millennials
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Anxiety and often depression experienced by young adults lies in uncertainty. Fresh Student Living looked at what is to blame for the recent rise in anxiety among millennials

Millennials are considered one of the most anxious generations, which can often be attributed to exams, future uncertainty and the stress that comes with trying to fit into a social media-driven world. In fact, social media use has been linked with increased rates of depression and poor sleep.

What age do mental health problems occur?

Official mental health statistics show that mental disorder, distress, and feelings of depression among millennials are at an all-time high, more than trebling in the last few years. Additional data reveals even more shocking numbers:

  • 8 million people suffer from some form of anxiety disorder in the UK
  • 50% of mental health problems occur by the age of 14 and 75% by age 24
  • One in six young people will experience anxiety disorder at some point in their lives
  • Almost five times as many first-year students suffer from a mental health condition compared to 10 years ago
  • 16-24-year olds today are more likely to experience common mental health problems than previous generations
  • 1,180 students left university in early 2014 -15 due to mental health problems, a 210% increase from 2009-2010
  • More than 15,000 students in the UK disclosed a mental health issue in 2015 -16, compared to 3,000 in 2006
  • 87,914 students requested counselling in 2015 -16, a 28% rise from 2013 – 14

Factors that influence student mental health

While the rise of technology and pressure from parents can be contributing factors, psychologists suggest that it is the uncertainty of the future that impacts students the most.

Today, millennials spend more time studying compared to previous generations, have more competition in their career, and find it more difficult to achieve job satisfaction. They also marry later in life, spending a larger portion of their lives making it on their own.

While uncertainty over things like careers, relationships and social acceptance are normal triggers for anxiety, just looking at the number of students experiencing mental health problems prove that there is a real issue.

Recent reports by YouthNet show that UK pupils are the least happy in the world, meaning feelings of anxiety and depression could begin as early as high school. More studies show that a third of young women and one in 10 young men suffer from panic attacks.

The concerns of getting a job

Experts suggest the current generation of university students experience greater pressure than previous generations due to increased study costs and a highly competitive job market. In 2017, YouGov revealed 81% of students feel pressure to find a job within six months of graduating.

The reasons students feel under pressure to get a job:

  • Wanting to earn money or have disposable income (82%)
  • Career aspirations (78%).
  • Belief that job prospects are thin on the ground (45%)
  • Desire to start paying back their student loan (23%)
  • Providing financial support from their family (24%)

A minority of students also admit their reasons include expectations from their parents (27%) or their peers (13%).

One in five young people admit to waking up in the middle of the night to check messages on social media

According to a recent survey by Royal Society for Public Health, “social media may be fuelling a mental health crisis”. In fact, Instagram has been named the worst social media network for mental health and wellbeing. Within 1,500 teens and young adults across the UK surveyed, the consensus the photo-platform contributes to high levels of anxiety and depression, bullying, body image issues, and FOMO – the fear of missing out.

Research suggests young people who spend more than two hours per day on social media sites are more likely to report mental health issues, including symptoms of anxiety and depression psychological distress.

Diane Gault, Director of Fundraising at YoungMinds, Fresh Student Living’s chosen charity partner, adds, “Social media is one of the many pressures young people face today. Though it can have many benefits, helping young people to express themselves and offering them the opportunity to build communities that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to, it also puts pressure on them to establish a personal ‘brand’, to be constantly available, and to seek reassurance in the form of ‘likes’. We’re grateful for the generous fundraising from Fresh PG, which will help us continue our work fighting for young people’s mental health”.

How to cope?

Develop a study strategy that works

Developing a strict study method could eliminate the anxiety and stress associated with cramming the night before. Study smart; break down large projects into smaller tasks, set deadlines and keep track of your work.


Along with getting up and moving around regularly, doing mild exercise is a natural way to clear your head, reduce anxiety and release built-up stress and tension.

Feed the brain and body

Having a well-balanced diet is one of the best ways to feel good about yourself, and it’s beneficial to the brain as well having a positive effect on your mood, and energy and concentration levels.

Focus on the present

Instead of rehashing mistakes and failures, focus on your goals are and how you are planning to achieve them.

Think positively

This may be difficult in times of extreme anxiety or depression but thinking positively can help you clear your head. Try saying things like, ‘I will do my best’ to gain a clearer perspective on what’s important.

Talk to your friends and family members

Many students don’t realise your peers could be experiencing similar feelings. It may be daunting but don’t be afraid reach out to friends and family members who could act as valuable confidantes during difficult times.


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