Historically, therapy has been a taboo subject, which required careful consideration and something to be “wrong” with the person. It seemed like people should only go if they felt like they had some sort of mental illness. Now, therapy seems like a first option for millennials. They treat it more like an act of self-care than a chore. Society has set such high expectations for millennials, and it causes them immense stress when they can’t meet them. With the creation of therapy apps and online services such as TalkSpace and MyTherapist, millennials find it easier than ever to get the help they need.
The number of students seeking mental-health help increased from 2011 to 2016 at five times the rate of new students starting college, according to a 2017 report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State University. The stigma which was originally connected to psychotherapy has significantly decreased in the new generation of patients who are looking for treatment. Rather than being embarrassed about receiving mental health help, millennials are embracing it and are even able to casually talk about it with their peers. They are not worried about how many more sessions they will need, but instead are just happy to be able to talk to someone.
This is a complex situation, and the effects of this new approach to therapy have yet to be seen. On the negative side, apps may lead patients to think of therapy as a “quick-fix” rather than a long-term solution. If patients do pursue long-term therapy, it may also lead to dependency. Millennials also have different expectations of therapy, and they want someone to tell them what to do rather than someone to talk to. On the other hand, therapy is a coping mechanism that leans toward positive change. The stigma has been reversed and now patients are proud to be taking care of their mental health and seeking help.
For more on this, visit Peggy Drexler’s essay “Millennials Are the Therapy Generation”, Wall Street Journal, (March 1, 2019). https://www.wsj.com/articles/millennials-are-the-therapy-generation-11551452286