Mental Health: Mental health of millennials

As a generation that grew up in the fast changing world of digital innovation, millennials have developed the advantage of being able to accept and adjust effectively to change.

Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a meaningful contribution to their community.

Mental health is a critical component of individual, family, community and national wellbeing and prosperity.

The generation born between 1980 until 1996, who will now be aged 28 to 42 years in 2024, are sometimes labelled as the ‘millennials’.

 Millennials come after Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) and are followed by Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2010).

Millennials are a generation that reached adulthood as the new millennium began and were the first generation to be immersed in digital technology and the internet.

Millennials are incredibly adaptable as they have grown in a fast changing, faster paced world than their parents and grandparents before them, however, there are unique challenges that may affect the ability of millennials to maintain their mental wellbeing.

What are the common characteristics of ‘millennials’?

  1. Open to and adaptable to change: millennials are more adaptable than the generation before them and where their parents and grandparents would stay in a job for life, millennials may have five or more jobs in a lifetime and are less afraid of shifting and changing their environment.

As a generation that grew up in the fast changing world of digital innovation, millennials have developed the advantage of being able to accept and adjust effectively to change.

Millennials are also more open to mental health therapy and mental health interventions than generations before them.

  1. Digitally connected and technologically savvy: the vast majority of millennials are very active on social media and are highly digitally connected.

This gives the advantage of being comfortable with digital technology and the ability to utilise these technologies to one’s advantage at work and in personal life. However, this digital connectivity may be having a detrimental effect on concentration spans and ability to form meaningful relationships outside of the digital space.

  1. Curious, innovative and collaborative: millennials have also been described as being highly curious and innovative which can be an advantage in the workplace. Millennials are now becoming leaders in workplaces and communities and have been seen to prefer collaborative styles of leadership fostering teamwork.
  2. Place high value on individuality: Millennials have been seen to place a high value on their own individuality and that uniqueness of others. Where previous generations valued uniformity and conformity sticking with cultural norms, millennials may often resist this and may struggle to conform blindly to ‘the way that things have always been done’.
  3. Increasingly educated: Millennials have had more formal education than their predecessors with more women reaching higher levels of education compared to previous generations which has improved quality of life in this generation.
  4. Highly conscious of social causes: Millennials take social causes seriously and with their digital connectivity can bring attention to social challenges rather quickly. This can make millennials highly influential in how a community thinks and acts.

Mental health challenges of ‘millennials’

Millennials are struggling with their health in general and their mental health in particular compared with previous generations. There is an increasing prevalence of depression, anxiety and substance use in this generation.

Digital connectivity has sadly replaced genuine, deep meaningful relationships and millennials are increasingly lonely even though they are highly digitally connected.

This is a significant risk factor for depression and other mental health challenges.

Digital connectivity has also impaired attention spans in millennials and ability to concentrate for extended periods of time. Coping with fast paced, rapidly changing environments also increases risk of anxiety and stress.

Many millennials feel tired and struggle with burnout. There is an increasing rate of ‘deaths of despair’ among millennials from suicide, alcohol and substance use.

I am a ‘millennial’, how can I improve my mental health and wellbeing?

  1. Value emotional awareness, emotional authenticity and emotional vulnerability
  2. Invest in mental wellbeing, therapy and counselling as part of self-improvement
  3. Consider a digital detox to break away from the dopamine inducing effect of social media
  4. Make time to spend face to face time with family and friends and to build meaningful relationships
  5. Reach out for professional mental health support when you need it

If you think that you or a ‘Millennial’ that you know may be experiencing a mental health problem, please contact your nearest health care provider and get help.


  • Dr Chido Rwafa-Madzvamutse is a consultant psychiatrist. Feedback:  WhatsApp: +263777727332


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