Millennials Take Control of Their Mental Health: A Candid Convo with a Millennial Therapist.
By: Lynzee Mychael
In recent years, millennials have become progressively more vocal about the importance of mental health. This generation is unique in many ways, and their commitment to talk openly about mental health issues is one of the key elements that sets them apart from the generations before them. African American millennials are beginning to recognize the importance of mental health and taking control of their own mental wellness. With access to more resources than ever before, this generation is looking at mental health professionals, support groups and self-care practices to ensure they’re on the path to emotional well-being.
As African American millennials take control of their mental health, the shame surrounding therapy in the black community is beginning to dissipate. Mental wellness is an increasingly important topic in African American communities, where mental health disparities have long been a problem. Millennials, often characterized as being more open and comfortable discussing their mental health than previous generation, are more likely to seek help. And they are more likely to talk openly about their mental health and the challenges they face. This is a major shift in the way mental health is discussed, and it is having a positive impact not only on millennials but also on other generations of African Americans.
Although Mental Health Month is in May, it is important to keep the conversation relevant year-round to promote health and wellness. I caught up with three licensed mental health professionals who happen to be millennials to discuss the importance of mental wellness.
Markiesha Johnson is a licensed clinical therapist and owner of Restorative Minds Counseling. She is passionate about helping people reach their highest selves and navigating self-discovery. Angela B. Burgess is a mental health therapist who believes in meeting people where they are. She is a published author, advocate for youth and creator of #MyselfIncluded. Shadae Roberson is a licensed therapist and owner of Healing Matters Counseling Services. She specializes in trauma, grief and loss and depression and anxiety management.
What are some key differences you see within millennials compared to our parents’ generation and before that may be why we are starting to take more control over our mental health?
Markiesha Johnson – Millennials are more open. They are innovative and breaking barriers on so many levels in regard to mental health. Millennials are not suffering in silence. Our generation is more open to change. A lot of previous generations are used to one way and that’s the way of the world. Millennials are open to different self-opinions, and I think that’s one of the main things that set us apart. We have social media now and a lot of things are more accessible. We are in this technology era, so a lot of things are more accessible, and we have resources at our fingertips. The millennial generation is open to educating ourselves on things we don’t know about.
Angela B. Burgess – We are the generation that asks questions. Different generations followed without asking. Millennials are that sweet spot where we are young enough to remember life before the internet, but we are old enough to have had access as adolescents. We had access to knowledge when generations before us didn’t have that access so they followed what happened around them. Now we use words like toxic masculinity, scapegoating and gaslighting. These are words that are common in my field but now someone can learn what it is and post it and it becomes popular.
Shadae Roberson – The stigma of receiving mental health care has been prevalent. Dating back to slavery, entrusting medical professionals has been frowned upon. We are in a movement in which individuals are embracing a need to be proactive with their mental health. As a nation, the rate of suicide is on the rise. We are finally at a point where we aren’t saying ‘what happens in this house, stays in this house’ and we are actually talking about and identifying unhealthy patterns and generational curses.
What ways can someone help a loved one who is not open to the idea of therapy but is having mental struggles that need to be addressed?
Markiesha Johnson – Try not to be judgmental. The main thing is checking on your people and seeing how they are doing. If you notice that there is a shift in a person’s behavior, that’s one of the first symptoms that they may be struggling. I would first talk to them. Let them know you are there for them. A lot of times people do need their space, but as a friend and family member that love those people it’s important that you talk to them and allow them to come to you. There are also different hotlines and resources you can provide. 988 is the 3 digit number that someone can use if they are contemplating suicide or having suicidal thoughts. I still would give them a list of resources if they’re open at some point to seek professional help.
Angela B. Burgess – I would suggest you meet them where they are. So, you can maybe just be that listening ear and start there. Acknowledge they have a lot going. Let them know “I’m just here to listen to you but I’m also not a professional or [if you are] a professional, I cannot be your professional so maybe you should talk to somebody” and just help them on their journey to healing themselves. So, sometimes that looks like showing up. And sometimes it looks like modeling. Sometimes someone seeing you on your healing journey will inspire them to take control of their mental health.
Shadae Roberson – It can be discouraging to watch those you care for struggle with their mental health. The most nurturing thing to do in these cases is to be a listening ear and validate what they are going through. Build trust and rapport to be of support the best way possible while never forgetting to check in with yourself. Why is this affecting you so much? Are there other people or agencies that can share the responsibility? Resist the urge to ‘fix’ and simply ask how you can help. Ask questions and explore various options together. Pay attention to the red flags or signs and symptoms that a person is in crisis and seek assistance. Provide resources like the 24-hour text and chat hotline at 988.
Millennials are taking control of their mental health by actively seeking help and speaking out about their experiences. This includes talking to friends and family, seeking professional help and utilizing technology and social media to share their stories. African American millennials are leading the charge towards destigmatizing mental health and accessing better care. The millennial generation is the most educated and diverse generation yet and is increasingly vocal about mental health issues and advocating for better access to mental health services.
If you or someone you love need help resources can be found on www.psychologytoday.com.