Understanding generational differences when it comes to mental health can help one improve interpersonal relations. Here a therapist helps us do the same.
In a world where discussions about mental health have gained significant traction, a TikTok video emerged, capturing the essence of generational disparities in approaching mental well-being. The video opens with an immigrant woman remarking, "This generation messed up. Each one has depression and anxiety and keeps popping pills." It's a sentiment that echoes through the minds of many from older generations. But is it as simple as it seems? Dr. Vanessa Milagros (@dr.vanessaphd), a licensed mental health professional and a "first-generation Latinx woman," steps in to shed light on this complex issue. She offers an insightful perspective that highlights the multifaceted reasons behind the younger generation's distinct approach to mental health, going beyond mere pill-popping.
She starts her piece by saying, "My name is Dr. Vanessa Milagros. I'm a licensed mental health professional and a first-generation Latinx woman." She then goes on to address the statements made by the immigrant woman, "I will not negate anything she said because her experience is her own. I just want to bring a few things to light. First, it's important to understand that yes, our parents and their parents definitely had a life of trauma, traumatic experiences that they went through, especially if they immigrated from a different country to this country." Her acknowledgment showcases her empathy. She then addresses the roots of clinical depression and anxiety, emphasizing that these conditions are influenced by biological, psychological, and social factors.
She counters the notion that environmental stressors alone should be enough to explain the rise in mental health issues among the younger generation. "You can have someone who has anxiety and depression, and it doesn't mean that they're both going to have the same symptoms. Somebody may have depression and they may sleep in bed all day. Another person may have depression and they're doing three jobs in one day, but they're still both depressed." One significant factor that distinguishes the younger generation from their elders is the access to mental health resources. Dr. Vanessa highlights how today's youth have unparalleled access to information and support systems, a luxury not afforded to previous generations, particularly immigrants. "People in my parents' generation or their parents' generation, mental health access to that was not even a thing. Even when they came from a different country to here to the United States."
Cultural perceptions play a pivotal role in how different generations perceive mental health. Dr. Vanessa points out that older generations often viewed seeking therapy as a sign of being "crazy," whereas today, mental health discussions are normalized. "Now, mental health is more generalized. It's more accessible and it's not looked upon as somebody who is crazy or what is wrong with them. It is looked at as something that is normal just like going to your medical doctor's office." @phoenixsl87 chimed in with agreement, "Exactly why I put myself in therapy at 15 and had to hide it. I am 36 now with nieces and nephews who go to therapy like normal. They understand how much stems."
The shift in perceptions and access to resources is a testament to the progress made in understanding and addressing mental health. While generational gaps persist, fostering open conversations and empathy can bridge the divide and promote healthier attitudes toward mental well-being. She says, "We have more access to information than they do. So they don't understand, take the time and explain it to them as much as you can and feel comfortable with and as much as they allow you to." Sharing the sentiment, @yadisssxx said, "I remember I was 10, I told my mom I wanted a therapist and she said I was crazy. Today she sees mental health differently and supports me." As we navigate this evolving landscape, it's essential to recognize that seeking mental health support is not a sign of weakness but a crucial step toward well-being.