Millennials and Mental Health: Generation Y’s Search for Purpose Makes Us Stand Out

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By: Melissa Schenkman, MPH, MSJ

The story below is a part of  YMyHealth’s Making a Healthy Office Comeback series. As more millennials return to the office or transition to hybrid work schedules in 2022, we will be highlighting the concerns and health challenges Generation Y tells us they are facing and feature advice from millennial experts on how to maintain your healthy habits.

What’s your purpose?

It’s a question that many millennials are asking themselves and trying to answer.

Contemplating and ultimately finding the answer is one of the most common challenges to the mental health of Generation Y.  Which is why it should be no surprise that it’s also a common topic of conversation that clients often have with 37-year-old mental health therapist and life coach, Jason Phillips, LCWS.

“We are a purpose-based people,” says Phillips of millennials, particularly his 21-30-year-old clients. And knowing what that purpose is can really shape the decisions they make.

One of common narratives running though his millennial clients’ minds is this: ‘I’ve been to school, started college, finished college, and I did all these things that my parents told me to do or society feels is necessary.’

Now, that they are adults, they are trying to figure out what decisions they should be making for themselves and what making those decisions look like.

A Renewed Passion for Finding Purpose

During the almost now two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Phillips has been hearing now more than ever that people are choosing happiness over monetary gain.

“If there is a career field or position that they want to do that’s going to bring them internal joy, they are choosing that over the more stressful position that brings them a higher return, financially,” Phillips said.

People are really thinking about how they can maintain their overall well-being and find their purpose. Something that he thinks is really excellent to see and will ultimately lead those of us in our 20s, 30s, and 40s to better health.

How Jason Found His ‘Purpose’

Long before he started in the fields of mental health therapy and life coaching, Phillips began searching for his own purpose.  

Jason Phillips, LCWS, Founder of Peace & Prosperity Coaching.

He observed that some people were able to manage life’s stressors without any issues. Yet other people would experience a traumatic event and it seemed to completely disrupt their life.

Wanting to know why, his curiosity inspired him to find his purpose—ultimately helping people and many fellow millennials—by studying psychology as an undergrad.

It taught him about human development and how the brain and mind work, answering some of his questions about why some people handle life’s stressors differently or seemingly better than others. But to make a difference he needed to know more

So, he pursued professional education in social work.

“If we don’t have our bare necessities—food, shelter, housing, things of that nature, we can’t even begin to wrap our minds about process and other life stressors and stressful event,” Phillips said.

Now more than a decade into the field, he is helping fellow millennials not only find their purpose but navigate the day-to-day challenges the pandemic has and will continue to present us with.

To learn more about the mental health challenges millennials have been facing throughout the pandemic, and Jason’s strategies to overcome them, visit our Making a Healthy Office Comeback page.

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