U.S. College Students Quietly Cry out for Affordable Therapy
Thanks to smartphones, social media, and ever-present technology, young adults are spiraling into a mental health crisis without attainable tools needed to help them.
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There are defining moments in every generation, whether it be war, civil rights, or innovation that has changed the course of society. Usually, these things force people to wake up and pay attention, however, for Gen Z and Millennials, perhaps the most impactful has been social media, which is not waking people up but instead distracting them from everyday life and impacting their emotional and mental stability. Yet they can’t get enough of it. Behind the veil of these social media mediums, young adults are spiraling into a mental health crisis without attainable tools needed to help them.
What began with one site, Myspace for the Millennial generation quickly grew beyond people’s imaginations with tech giants entering the field leaving everyone's brains with multiple tabs open, drawn into what has become an alternate reality and point of obsession for this generation. It isn’t surprising that almost 80% of 18 to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and 71% use Instagram. With increased usage, Gen Z and Millenials are not seeing the happiness they are glorifying in their postings each day.
In a survey done by Rethink My Therapy, it was revealed that 57% of millennials and Gen Z ages 18-25 spend at least 4 hours a day on social media which has been proven to take a toll on mental health. 40% of this age group has not sought help for their mental health issues sadly with nearly 23% citing they feel hopeless and don’t know how to get affordable help.
This generation of fresh minds has been given the ability to interconnect with the help of the world wide web, but haven’t been equipped with the tools to combat the possible side effects of it, and moreover, haven’t been granted the affordability of a healthcare system that puts their mental stability first. The lack of help is affecting their lives in more ways than one. Overall, 21% say it affects their school work, 15% say it affects their job, and almost 15% saying they’ve contemplated suicide. 28% of them have admitted they have previously self-medicated due to a lack of professional resources.
What may come as a surprise is that despite being more embarrassed than women when it comes to worrying about people finding out about therapy (men cite embarrassment as 35% of the reason they haven’t vs women at 28%), more men (64%) than women (43%) have sought help from a doctor for their mental health issues.
In order to overcome this, it’s important for the healthcare system to address the barriers to entry, which include the fact that just over 25% of respondents to the Rethink survey cite lack of doctors in their area as a barrier to seeking help, and 23% saying they simply don’t have the time. Additionally, when it comes to cost, almost 30% of Americans think that therapy is too expensive, and almost 30% say that their insurance doesn’t cover therapy. Furthermore, just under half the respondents (around 44%) can afford the average cost of 1 therapy session ($150) IF they went to therapy 1 time a month (ie; their monthly budget would only get them 1 in-person sessions).
With cost and convenience being the most outstanding battles to overcome, it’s clear that there’s an opportunity to solve this epidemic with 33% of respondents say they would speak to a therapist in the comfort of their room if they knew they could. While we may not be able to stop the overwhelming obsession with social media or fix a healthcare system that doesn’t place enough value on quality mental health services, virtual therapy can aide this generation in getting the help they need.
Author: Connor Gallic, CEO of Rethink My Healthcare
About Dr. Tchiki Davis
Dr. Davis is founder of The Berkeley Well-Being Institute. After getting her PhD in psychology at Berkeley, she started creating online content & programs to boost well-being—some of these have reached more than a million people. As author of Outsmart Your Smartphone, and contributor to Psychology Today, The Greater Good Science Center, and Shine Text, Dr. Davis aims to share her insights on happiness & health with people all across the world. Learn more about Dr. Davis.