Your Member Benefits Website features include:

  • Access to online articles with helpful information
  • Ability to submit an online form asking a counselor to contact you
  • Topics covering working life, wellness, parenting, management, etc.

Your Customer Hub features include:

  • Automated headcount updates in UCMS
  • Invoicing reflective of the active populations under your account
  • Access reporting with case trends, disruptive issues, utilisation

Local Service Partners

Local Service Partners are independent EAPs with which WPO has established strategic relationships for the delivery of global EAP services in alignment with the WPO models, processes and quality standards.

  • 27 January 2022
  • 2 years

Millennials and Mental Health

Eliza Redlus, MA

Clinical Trainer

Between 2007 and 2009, we experienced what has come to be known as the Great Recession here in the United States, a period of economic decline when we saw the housing market collapse, income inequality increase, and per capita household wealth fall. This decline affected all generations of Americans but took an especially significant financial and emotional toll on millennials (those born between 1981-1996), who were just entering adulthood during these years. At a time when they expected to be enjoying the first tastes of independence, millennials instead found themselves facing an uncertain job market, declining wages, high student loan debt, and limited savings potential compared to previous generations. A 2018 report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that people born in the 1980s had wealth levels that were 34 percent below where they would have been had there not been a recession. As a result of these circumstances, many millennials were forced to accept lower paying jobs, forego medical care, and delay major life changes, such as buying a home, getting married, and having children. Moreover, as one of the first highly “connected” generations, they found themselves increasingly turning to social media for information and escape, which ultimately served to foster comparisons and to heighten feelings of inadequacy. All these factors contributed to increasing rates of depression, stress, and anxiety among millennials, and research supports the notion that millennials were indeed already suffering from declining mental health when the COVID-19 Pandemic hit. 

A study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association found that between 2014 and 2020, millennials reported a 43 percent increase in incidences of major depression and a 17 percent increase in substance use disorders. In addition, a 2019 poll found that 30 percent of millennials said that they felt lonely and had no friends, no close friends, or no best friends. This finding reflects the reality of an increasingly online world where many relationships exist solely via chats and “likes” on posts. It would stand to reason, then, that the changes wrought by the pandemic exacerbated these existing mental health concerns for millennials. In fact, a Harris Poll found that nearly one-third of millennials reported a further decline in their mental health due to the pandemic, while a survey by the American Psychological Association on Stress in America found that almost half of millennial respondents confirmed they were struggling with making day-to-day decisions due to stress. While baby boomers and those of the silent generation reported less stress and more financial security than millennials, likely due to having fewer work or family responsibilities and more savings and equity built over time, industries known to employ millennials were hard hit by the pandemic. Therefore, millennials were more likely to experience job loss or a reduction in pay. As a result, any financial recovery that they may have achieved following the recession was at risk of being hindered, if not reversed completely, leading to greater debt and less ability to save for the future. This caused some millennials to delay having children, to decide not to have children at all, or to leave the workforce to care for children in the face of high childcare expenses or lack of available care. Other millennials found themselves sandwiched between caring for young children and aging parents and wondering how to protect the health and well-being of both higher risk populations. Those whose companies transitioned to remote work found themselves struggling with the physical separation from their work teams, the loss of a primary support network, and an increased sense of disengagement and disconnection from work, while the closing of services they came to depend on for quality of life, such as restaurants and gyms, further led to symptoms of isolation, depression, and anxiety. It’s not surprising, then, that we saw an uptick in alcohol use, smoking, vaping, and overdoses among millennials during the pandemic as they tried to cope with their changing life circumstances and an uncertain future. 

Despite increasing mental health concerns for millennials, they are one of the first generations willing to speak out about mental health needs and to advocate for support via policy changes at the organizational and governmental levels. In this way, they can be viewed as “change agents” in an ongoing conversation around destigmatizing mental health. As mentioned earlier, they are also heavily reliant on technology and social media, which has its pitfalls, but also provides a platform for normalizing conversations around seeking support, particularly when high profile individuals choose to share their own personal struggles publicly. It is interesting, then, that millennials are less likely than other generations to know what benefits are available to them through their employer, to be less comfortable disclosing symptoms of stress to their employer, or to be less honest about needing time off from work to attend mental health appointments. This reinforces the fact that many employers continue to treat mental health as a taboo topic, and it holds important implications for how employers can better support their millennial employees moving forward. When consulted, millennial employees have expressed that they would like their employers to: 

  • Create a healthy organizational culture that normalizes conversations around mental health starting from the top down 
  • Extend employee wellbeing benefits that are easy to understand and access and align with a whole-person care model 
  • Offer employees flexibility and control over their work schedules 
  • Prioritize technologies that make work more efficient 
  • Provide mentorship and development opportunities 

Since millennials are projected to comprise 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, companies would do well to consider how they can begin implementing initiatives that address these needs so that they have the best chances of attracting and retaining employees of this generation. Some ideas include offering designated mental health days as part of a standard benefits package, establishing discussion groups at work for mental health support, developing and clearly communicating safe return-to-work plans, making greater use of mobile apps and interactive online learning tools as part of the onboarding and training process, and offering comprehensive employee wellbeing services, such as free or low-cost counseling, financial wellness programs, and childcare and eldercare resources. 

For their part, millennial employees can be proactive in addressing their own mental health needs by limiting their exposure to social media and news channels, establishing fitness and other wellbeing practices at home, nurturing important relationships, even virtually, and seeking out personal therapy. All these efforts will serve to help millennials better manage the emotional and practical challenges of daily life in what is and will continue to be an unpredictable world. 

Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family, and personal needs to become healthier, happier, and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness, and wellbeing services provide information, resources, referrals, and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programs. To learn more email us at

Disclaimer: This document is intended for general information only. It does not provide the reader with specific direction, advice, or recommendations. You may wish to contact an appropriate professional for questions concerning your particular situation.


Blue Cross Blue Shield. (2019, April 24). Blue Cross Blue Shield Association study finds millennials are less healthy than Generation X were at the same age. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from 

Blue Cross Blue Shield. (2020, October 15). Millennial health: Trends in behavioral health conditions. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from 

Brigham, T. (2021, January 12). ‘Wake up, millennials: Now is the time to prioritize your mental health,’ therapist says of coronavirus pandemic. CNBC. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from 

Claudia Black Center. (2021, March 19). Millennials, suicide, overdose, and covid-19 –. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from 

Codd, E. (2021, June 28). Millennials, gen Z and mental health. Deloitte. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from 

Collins, S. (2020, May 5). Why the covid-19 economy is particularly devastating to millennials, in 14 charts. Vox. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from 

Hill, C. (2019, May 15). The Dark Reason so many millennials are miserable and Broke. Barron’s. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from 

Hoffower, H. (2019, August 11). The great recession created a domino effect of financial struggles for millennials – here are 5 ways it shaped the generation. Business Insider. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from 

Marie, J. (2019, February 27). Millennials and mental health. NAMI. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from 

Miller, A. (2020, October 15). Nearly one in three millennials now suffer from mental health conditions, according to study. PhillyVoice. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from 

Musto, J. (2021, October 28). Stress from covid-19 causing millennials to struggle with decision-making. New York Post. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from 

Place, A. (2021, July 8). Covid Mental Health is a disaster for gen Z and millennial employees. Employee Benefit News. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from 

Seah, L. (2021, November 1). How to retain gen Z and Millennial employees during the great resignation. Airswift. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from 

Society of Actuaries. (2021, May 19). Nearly half of millennials and gen X expect covid-19 will impact their future retirement preparedness. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from 



Related Posts

Wellbeing at Work Resources

Explore, educate and engage with our library of reports and insights on wellbeing industry trends.