Study reveals a generation's struggle with deteriorating mental health

14 December 2023

A recent study led by the University of Sydney has shown that each successive Australian generation is experiencing a decline in mental health compared to its predecessors.

This trend, outlined in the November edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has significant implications for mental health professionals, including members of PACFA.

The study tracked the mental health trajectories of 27,572 Australians over a span of two decades, from 2001 to 2020. It found that individuals born in the 1990s are grappling with poorer mental health for their age, and unlike earlier generations, they are not witnessing an improvement in mental well-being as they age.

Interestingly, individuals born prior to the 1980s show little evidence of worsening mental health with age. This raises critical questions about the factors driving this apparent decline in population-level mental health.

The study suggests that it is the compromised mental health of Millennials that is fueling the overall deterioration in population-level mental well-being. To effectively address this issue, it is crucial for mental health professionals to understand the contextual factors and societal changes that have disproportionately affected these generations.

As members of PACFA, our collective expertise and insights play a pivotal role in comprehending the underlying causes and developing strategies to mitigate this concerning trend. It is an opportunity for all of us to consider the broader societal shifts influencing mental health, and collaboratively explore potential interventions.

Read the study abstract or an article on the study in The Guardian or listen to in interview with report co-author and University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine senior research fellow Dr Richard Morris on ABC News Radio.