Typically, when you’re in a discussion where Millennials are the topic in favour, you’re likely going to hear a lot of criticism that paints Millennials as representing a type of young, technology-influenced generation that are sometimes seen as hiding behind an Instagram/Snapchat filter, or “bulletproof” in a sense. For the most part, the assumptions about Millennials can be easily debated, however thanks to a new study, that could soon all change for at least one area of concern. According to Blue Cross Blue Shield, if you’re a millennial, chronic conditions and diseases start to show themselves in your late 20s, and from there things continue to deteriorate rapidly, according to the new report.
A new report from insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield found that a significant health decline begins at 27, and older millennials, ages 34-36, are less healthy than Generation X’ers were at the same age. As a whole, Millennials, as a generation, are in overall poorer health than their predecessors, Generation X’ers, with higher rates of depression, hyperactivity, substance misuse, type 2 diabetes and Crohn’s disease, among other chronic conditions. The top health conditions millennials face, according to the study, include major depression and other mental health issues, substance, tobacco and alcohol use, hyperactivity, hypertension, high cholesterol, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and type 2 diabetes. The analysis looked at 55 million millennials with insurance, meaning that these results are indicative of what happens when people do have access to healthcare.
According to the study, a mere 68% of millennials have a primary care physician, versus currently 91% of Generation X’ers.
“Based on these findings, we’re seeing that millennials are not seeking preventative care and it’s not only having an effect on their immediate health, but will significantly impact their long-term health as well,” Dr. Vincent Nelson, vice president of Medical Affairs for BCBSA, said in a press release recently. In addition, millennial women in particular were found to be 20% less healthy than millennial men, which is allegedly due to experiencing higher rates of major depression, type 2 diabetes, and endocrine conditions.
Sanford Health, one of the largest health systems in the U.S., reported on its website that a majority of millennials consider health and wellness a top priority. Wellness is a daily, active pursuit for millennials. The study also displayed that Millennials are typically eating healthier and exercising more than any other previous generation. Additionally, the study found that Millennials smoke less and almost half consider healthy eating a lifestyle choice as opposed to a goal induced diet.
If this is the case, why is millennial health declining faster than that of previous generations?
So what exactly is the cause of all this? According to the research, it’s actually a number of factors that largely contribute to millennials experiencing more health problems sooner than any other generation before.
From chronic loneliness and stress-related illnesses to heart disease and cancer, more millennials are struggling with serious health problems in their 20s and 30s. The reasons why point to a systemic societal problem as the main force behind the growing concern.
A 2018 UK study from The Health Foundation cited stress from low wages, lack of job opportunities, unstable living situations, and lack of overall security as a major contributor to these health issues.
“As well as spending more of their income on housing than previous generations, millennials are also more likely to live in overcrowded conditions,” the study reported. “There is a link between overcrowding and mental ill health as a result of stress, tension, family break-ups, anxiety and depression, and chaotic and disturbed sleeping arrangements.”
In addition to having to live with roommates longer, sometimes well into your 30s, millennials also reported feeling pressured to keep up appearances on social media (to a high regard) while also trying to maintain relationships in real life. Unfortunately, in some cases, the pressure of doing so actually strained the relationships, family, friends and romantic alike. Despite maintaining the social media façade, a majority of millennials in the UK study said that they did not have a solid support system and lacked financial stability, both of which can contribute to stress, anxiety, and depression.