Is There a Millennial Mental Health Crisis?

Mar 29, 2018 | Blog, Depression

As depression becomes increasingly common among young people, millennials say they need help developing better coping mechanisms for life’s challenges, as well as more resources invested in mental wellness.

Is There a Millennial Mental Health Crisis?


  • Young people struggling with depression say they are ‘bearing the brunt’ of a broken system.
  • Facing rising levels of depression, youth say their mental health needs are being neglected.

Despite the greater recognition of rights, increased educational opportunities, and improved technology in today’s world, young people in New Zealand say that they are “suffering from more mental health issues than ever before.”

Suicide attempts among youth in the Pacific island nation have increased more than 50 percent in the last five years, leaving the country with the highest teen suicide rates in the developed world; Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has promised to address the crisis this year.

But these issues are not confined to New Zealand—globally, depression among young people has risen exponentially. In the US, the number of American youth admitted to the hospital for suicidal thoughts has doubled in the past decade. In Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong are among the many countries that have seen a tangible rise in stress levels among young adults. Experts and parents alike are left speculating why.

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What Has Changed?

Marketing and communications graduate Rosy Harper-Duff wrote recently that she feels her generation “lacks resilience” as well as the coping mechanisms necessary to deal with life’s difficulties.

“Millennials are steered away from the concept of failure, so when failure hits, we lack the skills to manage it,” she explained, adding that there is greater pressure on young people—particularly in New Zealand—to find fulfilling jobs, pay off debt, cope with high costs of living, and attain “perfection.”

Some people call it entitlement, Harper-Duff said. She calls it mismanagement. And this, she says, is what frequently leads to depression.

Is Someone in Your Life Struggling?

How do you know if a young person is coping with the same depression afflicting millennials around the world?

There are warning signs that differentiate sadness associated with grief or loss from those brought on by clinical depression. The latter sets in over a longer period of time and interferes with a person’s social life, work, and education. You might notice:

  • A lack of interest in activities the individual used to enjoy
  • A sense of hopelessness
  • Greater irritability
  • Low performance at work or school
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Desire to spend more time alone
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns

At that point, it is time to seek support.

Help Tailored to Young Adults

In her article for Newshub, Rosy Harper-Duff lamented how she feels doctors are too quick to prescribe anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications to young people who are struggling to find their way in life. She describes drugs as something that should be a “last resort, not a first.”

At The Edge, we recognise the benefits of pharmacological interventions, but prefer to offer holistic treatment to the young men who seek help with us for their depression, whether it is occurring on its own or alongside substance abuse issues.

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We accomplish this—with a 96 percent programme completion rate—through an innovative combination of cognitive behavioural therapy, adventure learning, and intensive physical training—all in a resort-like environment in the mountains of northern Thailand, far from the stressors of everyday life.

Our course of treatment is designed specifically for young men aged 16-24 and is implemented by Western-certified counsellors. We engage participants in individual and group therapy sessions to initiate the process of healing emotionally, as well as fitness training to stimulate endorphins in the brain and burn excess frustration and energy.

At The Edge, we specialise in helping millennials fight depression, substance abuse, and a variety of behavioural issues that hold them back reaching their full potential. Call us today to find out how we can help build the resilience you need to overcome your struggle.