Are Millennials Receiving Adequate Mental Health Coverage?

By: Hannah Sentenac

How hard is it to find the right health insurance, one that covers all of your medical and mental health needs and is affordable? It’s difficult for all of us, but more challenging for some. Now is the open enrollment period for many employer-sponsored health insurance plans, the ACA, and Medicare. Over the next several weeks CFYM will look at a variety of challenges facing different populations, beginning with today’s post on the generation of Millennials. .

Millennials are a lot of things: large in number, highly nontraditional, devotees of the almighty Google. A massive generation, we encompass everyone born between 1980 and 1999, which totals 80 Million+ Americans.

Unfortunately, we’re also a generation suffering from a lot of mental health woes.

Studies show Millennials tend to suffer from higher stress levels and mental health concerns than other generations. A 2013 study by the American Psychological Association and Harris Interactive found that more Millennials have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety than any other living generation, and that we’re more stressed than any other living generation.

This is a group in need of mental health care. Unfortunately, economic concerns often leave Millennials without the proper resources.

Health insurance and job security aren’t what they once were. Freelancing and self-employment are on the rise, and one study showed that 45% of Millennials will choose workplace flexibility over pay. Many are employed in lower wage positions, often with no benefits, working as freelancers or holding multiple jobs to make ends meet.

This lack of economic security means there’s little room for extras such as health insurance. One study by and Princeton Survey Research Associates International showed that 24% of Americans aged 18 to 29 don’t have coverage. And according to a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a quarter of people who are uninsured say they can’t afford to purchase coverage.

So what’s a broke Millennial to do when it comes to mental health?

I know this topic well. As a self-employed writer, I’ve experienced more than a few bouts of economic hardship when I couldn’t afford to put gas in my car, much less shell out for health insurance. (Some people might say, “Get a salaried job already,” but I’ve been there, done that. And the truth is, many companies are cutting benefits, even for salaried workers.)

Concurrent with economic insecurity, I suffered on and off from severe depression. This experience showed me firsthand about the lack of options for those short on funds.

If you can’t afford insurance, your options are the emergency room (where you’ll be saddled with bills you can’t pay) or applying for government-subsidized care, which is difficult, if not impossible, depending on income. Many Millennials might not meet government standards for poverty, but they’re broke nonetheless.

And even with healthcare reform in place, shoestring budgets simply don’t allow for $200 per month insurance premiums. Not to mention, even if you can just-barely afford insurance, increasingly high deductibles and co-pays are another barrier to care.

This lack of affordable, realistic options means a lot of young people are going without treatment. At various times in my life, that was me.

I’m not throwing a pity party for Millennials, but I am sounding a wake-up call about the reality of our current system. If we want a healthy, well-adjusted society, and happy, productive future leaders, mental health care is a must. And not just access to prescription meds, either, but options tailored to the individual — choices like therapy, group access, holistic treatments, and mind-body medicine.

I believe there’s a brighter future for mental health care. And the good news is, there are some available options for low-income Millennials in need of care … sometimes they’re just not so easy to find.

The more we have this conversation and highlight the importance of care and treatment availability, the more these issues will be given priority by government officials—and society at large.

We all need a helping hand once in a while, and it makes life a lot easier when one is readily available.


  • What are some options for low-income Millennials in need of care?
  • How are the people you know in this situation dealing with their mental health conditions?

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