Study says the drive for perfectionism is hurting millennials’ mental health

Editor’s note: If you’re struggling with mental health issues, the following post could be triggering. Text “START” to 741741 to connect with the Crisis Text Line.

Stories about millennials usually have a lot to say about the generation “killing” the napkin industry or the housing market. (Or the diamond industry, or soap, or any number of things.) But according to a recent study published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, millennials are actually the ones being hurt: The study found that striving for perfectionism is damaging to millennials’ mental health.

It may not sound surprising that perfectionist tendencies can lead to depression and anxiety. In fact, this isn’t the first time science has shown that life is harder for millennials than many of our older counterparts might think.

The Psychological Bulletin study included roughly 40,000 American, British, and Canadian college students. Researchers concluded that millennials “perceive that others are more demanding of them, are more demanding of others, and are more demanding of themselves.” Also, the resulting increase in perfectionism is linked to “record-setting cases of rising mental illnesses in the age group, including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders,” according to the study.

Apparently, social media and parenting style are contributing to this trend.

But guess what? Millennials are more likely to talk about mental health, too, which helps lessen the stigma surrounding mental illness.


Now that we know about the impact of perfectionism on mental health, it’s something we should feel free to openly discuss. If the pressure to be perfect is taking a toll on you, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Being honest with each other makes it easier to lift everyone up.

So, if the expectation of “having it all” is affecting your mental health, remember there’s no such thing. And that’s okay.

Getting help for mental health issues is the first step toward feeling better. Here’s how to find it.

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