Millennials feel more pressure than any previous generation to be perfect, according to a new study from the American Psychological Association. This pressure for perfectionism comes from both from millennials themselves and outside influences.
“Perfectionism is broadly defined as a combination of excessively high personal standards and overly critical self-evaluations,” according to the study, published in late December 2017.
The study reveals that from 1989 to 2016 while self-oriented perfectionism has increased over time, it has also experienced the smallest change over time. Furthermore, the study indicated that millennials are experiencing increased levels of socially-prescribed perfectionism.
“This finding suggests that young people are perceiving that their social context is increasingly demanding, that others judge them more harshly, and that they are increasingly inclined to display perfection as a means of securing approval.”
Additionally, the increase in socially-prescribed perfection is twice that of self-oriented perfectionism. The self-oriented score has increased by 10 percent according to the study, and the socially-prescribed score increased by 33 percent.
Increased levels of pressure to achieve perfectionism can be damaging to a millennial’s mental health and well-being. Millennials are already experiencing increased levels of mental health issues and depression than previous generations. Additionally, the increased pressure to achieve perfectionism will only cause further damage to the mental health of millennials.
Millennials are 25 percent more likely to experience depression than baby boomers. One in four millennials have been diagnosed with a mental illness that required treatment in the previous 12 months. Over a third of millennials (36 percent) have been so depressed at some point in the previous year that they were unable to function. Adding to this, the pressure of achieving perfectionism and these percentages will skyrocket.
Between 2014 and 2016, college students seeking help for mental health issues has risen dramatically — and not in proportion to increased enrollment.
According to the 2014-2015 report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health CCMH, “institutional enrollment grew by 5.6 percent between 2009 and 2015, while the number of students seeking services increased by 29.6 percent, and the number of attended appointments by 38.4 percent.”
The CCMH 2015-16 report shows that the number of students who seek counseling for mental health has climbed steadily during the year, as has medication use, attempted suicides, and hospitalizations.
Striving to do better in life, especially academically is always good. However, millennials should make a choice that they are striving for excellence on their own accord, and not for the sake of conforming to the pressure of society, as it is more often than not conceived in our minds. We must be careful not to impose unrealistic expectations on ourselves, or we will see a continued increase in the mental health issues of millennials.
Katie Zehnder is a recent grad of Regent University. In addition to writing for Red Alert, Katie is an Editor for Red Millennial.