When I qualified as a therapist and began thinking about which client group I wanted to work with, I was immediately drawn to working with millennials, partly because I am a millennial myself and I grew up right in the middle of this generation and so I have first-hand knowledge of the struggles we face, but also because I was acutely aware of the negative stereotypes that are all too pervasive and readily repeated.
The media is full of these negative statements about millennials that we are all sick of hearing, like the fact that we are lazy and entitled, that we expect to be constantly congratulated for our achievements, that we want the world to accommodate us.. or the dreaded if we stopped eating so much avocado on toast and drinking lattes then we would be able to afford to buy a house, haha! I’m sure you’ve heard them all and are sick of them too, right? In fact, because all I ever read and saw in the media was negativity directed at millennials it made me feel uncomfortable even using the term and actually made me cringe to be associated with it.
However, having grown up as part of this generation, with the same experiences as many of my millennial friends, I knew that this was the age group I had something to offer and slowly I began to embrace the term millennial and became more finely tuned in to what it encompasses for me and my clients, and the struggles we all face.
The term millennial actually refers to a broad age range and is generally thought to be those born between 1981-1996, which actually makes us fully grown adults in 2020! Not every millennial has had the same experience (that would be impossible to say of any generation) but we have encountered our fair share of hardships and it is rare that this is acknowledged in the media… for instance, many of us were just starting out in our adult lives and looking for work around the 2008 credit crunch, as well as having accumulated astronomical debt from our university studies. There is the fact that house prices are extraordinarily high meaning more millennials are living at home with their parents than previous generations and are unlikely to be able to ever afford their own home. In fact, it’s predicted that we are the first generation that will earn less than our parents – a shocking fact when we were raised to believe that with hard work anything is possible!
It, therefore, is unsurprising to me that millennials are suffering with their mental health, and anxiety and depression are reported as on the rise for our generation. These shared experiences are only part of the story, however, and the rise in stress, anxiety & depression that millennials are experiencing may also be to do with the society, culture and expectations that are put upon us in our daily lives.
Millennials born before around 1995 can remember a life without the internet, mobile phones and social media but we have had to quickly adapt to a life where we are constantly accessible and the temptation to compare ourselves to our peers is only a tap and a like button away. There is also a huge sense of foreboding and uncertainty about the future, climate change and economic collapse seem all too inevitable and we are bombarded daily with graphic & disturbing 24/7 news coverage making it difficult to prevent existential anxiety from seeping into our daily lives. In addition to this daily fear. We are presented with so many choices and decisions to make every day because the internet opens up so many possibilities and options, the pressure mounts up, causing panic and anxiety and making it difficult to plan for our futures in any meaningful way.
The millennials I see in my practice come with a variety of issues but there are common ones that pop up time and time again. Overwhelm and burn out are very common, often due to the work environment and the inability to be able to switch off which has only been made worse during the difficult circumstances of 2020 and the fact that many people have been forced into working from home, with no clear distinction between where work ends and home life begins.
Many are struggling with perfectionist tendencies, a fear of failure and persistent feelings of inadequacy, which paralyses them, making them unable to take action and move forwards. In fact, this is the thing I hear most often from millennials. . .
That they feel as though they will never be good enough, and that the constant pursuit of things to fill the void inside them has left them feeling exasperated, anxious, depressed, lost and confused.
Some others describe themselves as feeling broken or like a failure, most don’t know what help they require but are looking for answers and a way of understanding themselves better. But there is hope, and this is why I am so passionate about helping millennials!
As a generation we are changing the way that mental health and our emotional wellbeing is spoken about, we have begun conversations that need to be had, raised awareness around the need to be open about our feelings and begun to destigmatise mental health issues and accessing therapy. For too long, therapy has been seen as something that is only necessary for those with diagnosed mental illnesses but we are changing this perspective, therapy can help anyone and should be for everyone that desires to understand themselves better and develop better coping skills and techniques to manage the anxieties of daily life.
Millennials are also using social media to speak up about causes, be open about our own struggles and connect and support each other in a way that just hasn’t been done
How can therapy help?
If you are a millennial and you have been struggling in any of the ways that I have outlined above, then I hope that I have helped you to feel less alone, please know that there are many other millennials who feel just like you.
Maybe you have thought about accessing help and considered starting therapy yourself, but maybe you’re not sure how it can help… again you are not alone,
I see this time and time again, people know that they want or need help but can’t understand how talking to someone is going to make a difference. In some ways, therapy is just talking, but in other ways, it’s much more than that.
My job as a therapist is to help you to understand yourself better and to do this I use my listening skills to really hear you, both what you are saying and what you aren’t saying, and reflect this back to you. This allows you to connect with yourself and recognise patterns in your thoughts and feelings that you may not have noticed before.
Together we work at identifying issues and look at where you may be stuck in your life, we explore different options, try out new perspectives and reframe things in ways that are helpful to you and allow you to move forwards. It is a collaborative process,
I am not the expert on you or your own life, only you can bring that to the process but I can help you to understand your own story and help you to develop skills in retelling your story in a way that is beneficial to you. My aim is that through engaging in therapy you will learn skills and develop insights that you will be able to take forwards with you and in the future be able to use these to spot patterns and tweak behaviours, without having to come back to therapy in order to do so.
Many millennials feel as though they will never be ‘enough’, but I know this is untrue and that this belief needs to be dismantled! I believe that many of us do not feel enough because of the capitalist society we have grown up in that values our productivity more than our wellbeing, and the constant marketing of products that profit off of our insecurities and vulnerabilities. Once this is compounded with the uncertainty and anxiety about the future that many of us are experiencing, it is no wonder that we begin to internalise these stories and believe that we ourselves are not enough. It is not true though! Every single one of us is worthy just as we are, your worth isn’t tied to what you do or what you say, and it does not change day to day as you live your life.
Once we can truly accept our own integral worth as humans and also accept where we are now, then we can grow and develop in ways that we never imagined before. Therapy can give you the space to explore these complicated feelings, observe what has gone into creating them and help you to begin to tell and believe the story that you ARE enough, and actually you always were.
Meryn is an Integrative Therapist who works remotely online with millennials who are anxious, lost, stressed or depressed. Meryn works collaboratively with them to support them in their emotional wellbeing, to develop skills in self-care and foster a deeper understanding of themselves. Meryn believes that we all hold our own truth and answers within and that we all deserve the space and support needed to understand ourselves better. Meryn believes that with the right nurturing and safe environment we can heal from hurt, & grow and develop into the best versions of ourselves. Meryn is fully qualified with a first-class honours degree in integrative therapy. She is a registered member of the regulatory body the BACP, holds a diploma in providing therapy online and is registered with ACTO.