Younger generation more likely to experience mental health issues

Seven out of ten people between the ages of 18 to 34 have experienced some form of mental health difficulty

Younger generation more likely to experience mental health issues

File photo. Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images

A new study has found that younger people are more likely to experience mental health issues than the older generation.

A new report from the UK’s Mental Health Foundation has (MHF) found that nearly 65% of people have experienced some form of mental health issue – including, anxiety, panic attacks and depression.

It found that women are more likely than men to speak about mental health problems – with seven out of 10 women saying they had experienced some from of difficulty (compared to 60% of men).

Pressure to be thin, beautiful and cheerful are weighing heavily on female minds, according to the research - along with the responsibility for childcare.

The study of 2,000 people in Britain found that young people between the ages of 18 to 34-years-old were much more likely to experience mental health issues than those over the age of 55.

It found that 70% of 18 to 34-year-olds had experienced difficulties compared to 68% of 35 to 54-year-olds and 58% of people over the age of 55.

Generational differences

John Saunders, director of See Change – a group of organisations dedicated to bringing about positive changes in attitudes towards people with mental health problems – told Newstalk that the figures may show a higher prevalence of mental difficulties among young people - because they tend to be more willing to open up about their emotional wellbeing.

“The traditional view is that the older population in any country would be more likely to conceal because of issues around stigma and shame - and the fact that in Ireland particularly we tended not to talk about mental health issues,” he said.

“I think there is also a view that younger people are more likely to be accepting of mental health difficulties as part of ordinary life - and therefore are more likely to talk.

Opening up

He said research indicates that women are still far more likely to talk openly about mental health issues.

“That applies to all issues and I think it says something about the male population that we tend to hold things to ourselves and not share – particularly around emotional wellbeing and mental health and psychological issues,” he said.

“Women tend to get more support because they share [...] and they tend to get a greater social response to their issues than men and that is true of all western societies.

“It is one of these trends that people would say is changing over time so that younger people would tend to share more and disclose more than older people both in men and women.”

Generational differences 

Single mums and those with large families were found to be most at risk – with socio-economic factors found to have a serious effect.

Nearly three quarters of people (73%) living in the lowest household income bracket said they have experienced problems compared to 59% in the highest.

A large majority (85%) of unemployed respondents have experienced mental health problems compared to 66% of those who are working and 53% of people who have retired.

Tackling mental health issues

Mr Saunders said the first piece of advice for anyone dealing with any kind of emotional or mental difficulty is to, “that is willing to listen to you be they professional or non-professional.”

“The scientific research everywhere shows that if you start talking about the issues that concern you then you are more likely to find solutions to them - and also you are likely to realise that those issues are not as serious as you thought,” he said.

“So I think the advice for anyone who has a mental health concern of any sort is to find someone to share the issue with.

“That can be a family member or a friend or a loved one or it can be a professional.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this post, the Samaritans are available to talk and ready to listen on 116 123.