Itss the middle of the week, and you’re probably stressed but try not to think too much of it, or easily dismiss it, as it has become a norm in your daily life—but according to this study, you need to start paying attention. Conducted by The Health Foundation, an independent UK charity, findings suggest that millennials are more likely to suffer more health problems than their parents by the time they reach middle age. So while it is predicted that today’s generation will have a longer life span, it seems that quality of life, albeit longer, is poorer. As Time cited, though our health improved in some ways, including a decrease in the number of smokers, a more active lifestyle among millennials, and an increased number of individuals with college degrees (“there is no better predictor of functioning well at advanced ages than education”), overall, the standard of living is negated by these three main stressors faced by today’s generation, as identified in the study: housing issues, social and emotional problems, and employment challenges. The report said, “The gains made as a society in improving the health of previous generations may well be eroded by the precariousness and instability of the lives some young people are facing,” adding further that “Young people enter middle age without the fundamentals needed for a healthy life. Let’s dissect these three stressors to better understand how we can improve our standard of living.
The report identified a safe home environment as an essential “building block” needed for life. Although this was conducted in the UK, I’m sure most of us can relate to the young people surveyed who described the housing market as “difficult.” The rising cost of housing has forced millennials to settle for a less than ideal home environment that’s often neither safe nor healthy. For those living and working in the city, renting rooms in shared houses, in highly polluted areas with high crime rates for some, have become the norm. Imagine turning in from a stressful day at work, only to go home to an equally toxic environment. It might seem trivial but according to the study, this type of housing situation is bound to have significant impact on millennials’ health in the long run.
Aside from the current cost of living being at an all time high, our current labor market only serves to make things worse. The study specifically pointed to zero-hour contracts, or working only when they are “needed,” as a cause of anxiety for millennials. More than half of the respondents shared their difficulty in finding “secure fairly paid work” that simultaneously has “scope for career growth and development.” Moreover, the instability of the “gig economy” aka freelance or temporary type of employment, offers little to no job security, resulting to lower self-esteem, and higher levels of anxiety and depression among today’s youth.
Social and emotional problems
Highlighting the importance of relationships to an individual’s health, according to the study, millennials lack emotional support and are missing out on personal connections, stressing how young people of today are the first generation to navigate social situations in a digital environment as well as in person. 82 percent of the surveyed millennials reported that social media “put them under pressure to behave in certain ways.” It was also reported that millennials are more likely to suffer from “chronic loneliness” than any other age group.
While it’s true every generation has its own set of difficulties, this study opens our eyes to where we can further improve the quality of life not just for our own, but for the future generations as well.
Art by Marian Hukom
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