The Neuroscience of Empathy: How Our Brain Processes and Reacts to Other People's Emotions
Millennials and Gen Z are experiencing high levels of pressure and stress, which are likely by-products of sadness and depression. Financial stability, health care, climate change, and family welfare are among the issues raising mental health problems among these generations.
In addition, their inability to be their authentic selves and work-life balance weigh heavily on millennials and Gen Zs. And because the two generations make up the majority of the global workforce, their mental health crisis provides a challenge for employers globally.
Millennials & Gen Z Poor Habits and The Brain
Among Gen Z and millennials, mental health problems contribute to a significant increase in unhealthy habits such as:
- Increase in smoking
- Increase in the use of non-medical drugs
- Increase in vaping
- Increase in alcohol consumption
Good or bad decisions are usually made in the prefrontal cortex. Stress and anxiety impair the prefrontal cortex (part of the brain responsible for judgment, concentration, and impulse control), increasing unhealthy habits. This explains the rise in vaping, smoking, drinking, and recreational drug use in the recent past.
Major Factors Contributing to Mental Health Problems Among Gen Z And Millennials
At VOS health, we recognize that mental health is not one dimension. Numerous factors can influence how a person acts and feels. However, the 3 main issues leading to mental health problems among millennials and Gen Z are:
Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to use alcohol and drugs to deal with everyday stress. However, the habit can lead to addiction when people can’t control how much they use.
Continuous alcohol intake also reduces the person’s serotonin levels, making them more susceptible to mental health problems. For instance, excessive alcohol consumption results in alcoholic rage symptoms, while withdrawal leads to anxiety, insomnia, and headaches.
Although individuals with addictions can get help, the substance abuse stigma makes it challenging for the majority of them to seek help. This makes millennials’ and Gen Zs’ mental health problems worse because they might try to hide their addictions out of shame or do not want to admit they have a problem.
A vast majority of workers spend most of their time sitting in front of their computers. Similarly, the convenience of online interactions, shopping, and streaming entertainment has made it easy for individuals to never leave their couches.
A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to depression, anxiety, and stress because the body needs endorphins and stimulation that comes from exercise and movement. This often-overlooked aspect of the sedentary lifestyle significantly contributes to the rise of mental health disorders among Gen Zs and millennials.
Increased Dependence on social media
Gen Z and millennials are the biggest social media users today. And although the effects of social media on an individual depend on the circumstances they are going through; research suggests that social media usage and electronic communication contribute to an increase in suicidal thoughts and mood disorders because:
- Social media users miss out on face-face interactions, which can facilitate the formation of stronger and more meaningful relationships.
- Social media users often fear missing out and feel isolated when their peers exclude them from events or other social interactions.
- Reduced social interactions greatly impact a person’s self-esteem, mood, and overall well-being.