Younger generations fueling spending on mental health

Employers are facing new trends in how their employees prioritize their healthcare

By Sean Devlin      
A borderline OCD guy examines the details of his document, squinting at the monitor. A very thorough and perfectionist person.

A report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute states that younger generations are increasingly prioritizing mental healthcare as part of their coverage regimen. Although older people make up the majority of healthcare spending in the study, respondents under 25 are spending more money to ensure that they’re mentally healthy.

With one in five adults experiencing the effects of mental illness each year, the trend of looking after mental healthcare is a welcome one. However, this newfound emphasis on mental health is also causing employers to look at how they’re allocating healthcare funds and how they’re spending their money regarding benefits. In a competitive job market, employees want benefits packages that are going to take care of their needs, and in younger prospects, mental healthcare is a primary need. Organizations are going to need to rethink not only the offerings their benefits packages entail but how they’re presented.

A key takeaway from the report isn’t that younger people face more mental health challenges than older ones — they don’t necessarily — they’re often just more comfortable discussing them and facing them. With burnout at an all-time high, organizations should view the younger generation’s desire to put mental health as a priority in their occupations as a positive. A mentally healthy and fulfilled employee is much more likely to be a productive one, and that’s not just good for company culture — it’s also good for business. As the younger generation ages and has more earning power, it’ll be interesting to see how the conversation around mental health within employee benefits packages shifts.