In chatting to colleagues and friends in business, I have heard many instances of young employees, millennials if you will, that are taking antidepressants and anxiety medication (I am not making reference to people who have been diagnosed with depression). It astounds me that a growing number of young adults are taking psychiatric medicines at the very age when they are also consolidating their identity and finding out who they really are. In this stage of their lives, they should be making plans for the future, navigating adult relationships and working hard to achieve their career aspirations.

It’s almost as if these young people have not actually matured as required nor have they developed the skills they need to navigate life and the world of work where they now find themselves.

I understand that Millennials have to face issues that previous generations did not: a matric certificate, let alone a degree doesn’t hold the same weight as it did a number of years ago; jobs are tougher to come by and entry-level jobs are more complex as companies have cut back on workforce size.

All of this seems to have only increased the pressure on these young adults to perform and be competitive. And it seems their only perceived way of survival is the use of ‘happy pills’ #trending

But, really, what is it that they are so stressed about?

  • A bond?
  • The economy?
  • Business results?
  • A family?

I don’t think it’s any of the above.

They have been mollycoddled by helicopter parents, by drive-throughs that provide instant gratification, by the internet that hands everything to them on a silver platter. They have been recognized and praised when it was not truly deserved. So, no wonder they enter the workplace and freak out as they not getting compliments for just trying or for merely doing their jobs they are getting paid to do.

Cue in the antidepressants. Cue in the anxiety pills. They are surviving their early twenties on the mindset: Let’s try and make my brain believe there is no stress by numbing it with pills. Typical quick-fix solution to their problems.

They have not been given the tools to deal with real world, first-job stress.

Pills are not the answer. Yes, the world has changed compared to when I was a 20-year-old, but the one thing we did have was grit and the ability to tolerate, and USE, stress to increase our performance and make us more effective in our jobs.

The twenty-somethings that you employ need to stop viewing themselves as too fragile to cope with the adversity that life invariably brings and realize that they do possess the self-determination to get them through this life without having to rely on pills or any other crutch.

So here is my advice:

  • I plead for Managers to be more aware of this trend, and mentor young employees on stress management and open communication which is the simple solution to resolve unfounded pressure
  • I encourage parents to allow kids to feel age appropriate pressure and to sometimes fall as part of the learning journey
  • And finally, to the Millennials; suck it up, real stress is still to come, so find your inner grit and stop taking pills to handle life. Hashtag: Life is not instant!