“The truth is, although no one can really agree about the millennial generation, one thing is fairly certain: They’re stressed out.” – Loren Soeiro, Ph.D.
Reports show that millennials are suffering depression more than the previous generations and this condition has a significant impact on their ability to lead and succeed in the workplace. Depression is said to be the leading cause of both absenteeism and presenteeism. In absenteeism, it is causing industries to lose 23 billion dollars in productivity every year. Disregarding the financial losses, what is more, devastating is that almost half of mental health cases are left untreated.
When millennials are entrepreneurs or hold managerial and leadership positions, the stakes are higher. The expectations and pressures of leadership can worsen the symptoms of depression. When leaders aren’t able to efficiently guide their teams, the consequences can be colossal.
Also, Psychologist Kathryn Moore says, “I see many young adults who say they are social, but their social interactions consist of talking with people online while playing a video game for hours. These types of social interactions aren’t allowing for true sharing, connectedness, or feeling known.”
Experts claim that depression in itself is organic; some factors can intensify episodes and increase its frequency. As millennial leaders, they are seen as the backbone of the organization; the one to act as a support system rather than asking for support. Like any other millennials, they have struggled with regards to financial uncertainty and escalating student loan debts. Also, they are often neglectful of their physical and mental wellbeing. They usually have a poor diet and unhealthy sleeping habits. It has also created some forms of irrational fears that allow the individual to experience symptoms of a panic attack and inability to cope with certain situations. With top business leaders settling for just 3-4 hours of sleep of night, many millennials feel pressured to follow their footsteps and work more than 100 hours per week to be successful.
However, John Grohol, PsyD disagrees, saying, “An alternative view — and one worth considering — is that perhaps we’re focusing on millennials more because of a poor economy that is keeping such young adults from entering the workforce, finding a partner, marrying, and starting a family.”
Depression is considered a severe illness, but the good part is, it can be treated. The following strategies are specifically designed to lessen the impacts of depression on millennial leaders, their businesses and people who rely on them.
Absenteeism policies should support seeking help for mental illness.
Depression is considered a chronic health condition with episodes and exacerbations. Individuals who have depression need ongoing care and therapy. Sadly, many companies don’t usually give the same accommodation for persons with mental illness as compared to those who have physical impairments. A fitting example of this is the time off policies. Due to these rigid systems, depressed millennials often force themselves to work to avoid penalties for being absent, but the level of presenteeism is questionable. It is recommended that companies adopt policies that encourage seeking health and productivity.
A paradigm shift in attitudes about self-care and wellness
People most especially millennials are given the idea that neglecting their wellbeing in favor of productivity and accomplishment is good quality. An employee who works despite sickness, pulls all-nighters, and eats lunch at the work desk rather than taking the sick days, clocks out on time and taking timely breaks is often labeled as a hard worker and go-getter. Somebody who prioritizes self-care is put in second best at times even seen as weak and not ambitious. The mindset is counterproductive in the long term. Taking care of yourself will result in a lesser likelihood of burnouts, depression, and suicidal ideations. Company leaders and managers should encourage self-care and be vigilant in making sure that employees are not overworked. It is important not to shame and criticize those who have healthy workplace boundaries.
Utilizing health techniques like meditation
Most of the time, companies have set up a wellness initiative. These initiatives are often related to one’s physical health such as encouraging regular health screenings, healthier food options and incentives on a gym membership. However, these efforts often fail to include depression. Mindfulness meditation, self-care, and coping strategies are just some of the crucial topics that also needs to be addressed.