Mental Health Tips By Generation | Hartford Hospital

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Mental Health Tips By Generation | Hartford Hospital

February 06, 2024

Gen Z, Millennial, Boomer — what generation are you? Your answer may hold the key to your mental health. That’s because, while each generation has a unique way of taking on life, we all tend to face some common challenges along the way. So we asked an expert for mental health tips by generation.

Find yours (or your kids’) below.

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Boomers & the Silent/Post War Generation

Currently age 60+

Two key words for this generation: “Dignity and purpose,” says psychiatrist Carla Schnitzlein, DO, medical director of Natchaug Hospital, part of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network.

Without them, we’re at risk for mental health struggles in our senior years.

Watch for:

  • Isolation
  • Despair
  • Neurological issues like dementia

What to do:

  • Stay active, physically and mentally.
  • Engage in activities that give you a sense of fulfillment, like reading to your grandkids or volunteering in the community.

Gen X

Currently in 40s or 50s

“Many people at this age are part of the ‘Sandwich Generation,’ raising young kids while taking care of a parent or an older loved one,” says Dr. Schnitzlein. “Make sure you don’t lose the ability to set boundaries around activities that are important to you.”

Watch for:

  • Stress and caregiver burnout

What to do:

  • Ask family members for help so you can take a break from caregiving, and look into respite services in your community.
  • Find a caregiver support group.

Millennials

Currently in 30s or early 40s

“A lot of folks struggle with occupational identity at this age, because now we’re expected to work a nine-to-five job for the next 20 or 30 years,” says Dr. Schnitzlein. “Parents, this is where stress can weigh heavy on you too, feeling like you need to do enough to set your kids up for success.”

Watch for:

What to do:

  • Find healthy ways to cope with stress, like exercise, journaling or meeting up with friends.
  • Connect with a mental health professional for help identifying and changing negative thought patterns.

> Related: What to Do About Work Anxiety: A Therapist’s Top 3 Tips

Gen Z (older)

Currently in 20s

“Young adults: You know who you are, but you’re out in a busy world for the first time, and things can fall apart a little bit,” says Dr. Schnitzlein. “You’re also figuring out relationships with friends and potential romantic partners.”

Watch for:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Isolation

What to do:

  • Develop hobbies and social outlets where you find meaning and feel supported. Try yoga, sign up for a painting class, or join a running group.
  • If you notice signs of depression or anxiety, talk to your doctor or a mental health provider.

> Related: The Science of Binge Watching: Why We Do It and Should You Stop?

Gen Z (younger)

Currently teenagers

“Once kids hit adolescence, they’re trying to figure out their identity,” says Dr. Schnitzlein. “Parents, this is a time when your child is more likely to look for their peer’s approval than yours. Be ready to manage that in a way that doesn’t break down the healthy relationship you’ve established.”

Watch for:

  • Bullying, including online
  • Negative influences from social media

What to do:

  • Talk about healthy online interactions, and monitor your teen’s social media.
  • Get support right away if your child is affected by bullying. Start with their school counselor and pediatrician.
  • Find ways to keep the lines of communication open while respecting your teen’s desire for independence. Remind them they can lean on you and other trusted adults for help.

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Gen Alpha

Currently kids and tweens

“This is a core time to pick up on early struggles, and make sure your child has a supportive environment where they can learn to be themselves,” says Dr. Schnitzlein.

Watch for:

  • Educational challenges like a learning or speech disability
  • Developmental challenges like autism spectrum disorder

What to do:

  • If something doesn’t quite track with where your child should be, consult a pediatrician or child mental health provider. The sooner any developmental or learning challenges are identified, the better.

Mental health tips for every generation

Over the course of a lifetime, our mental health challenges may change, but one thing remains constant: Support is available.

If you’re struggling, reach out to your care team for help — and show those younger generations what it’s like to age with grace.