The Silent Workplace Epidemic that Endangers Millennials

Millennial employees get a bad rap—often chastised as being lazy and self-involved, they are actually the largest current generation and swiftly eclipsing baby boomers in the workforce. While they bring plenty to the table—innovation, creativity, technological know-how, inclusiveness—they are also vulnerable to toxic workplaces. The medical journal Pediatrics reports that not only are they more likely to become clinically depressed than any other generation, more young women are struggling with the disease. Clearly they need psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces to make the most of their potential and maintain their physical and mental health.

Not meeting this standard has dire consequences for individuals as well as the nation. This is why I’m working with Mental Health America (MHA) to improve psychological health in America’s workplaces. MHA has studied this problem and found that mental health issues cost $51 billion per year in absenteeism and lost productivity and $26 billion in direct treatment costs.

My fear is that the current atmosphere of divisiveness, bigotry and bullying promoted by the current administration will compound the problem of mental health in the workplace. Adult bullying in the workplace can cause even more havoc on a person’s well-being than school bullying—many adults need their jobs so they and their families can survive. In a tough economy they may have no other option, so they are forced to endure negative treatment, which gone unchecked can lead to physical and mental illness and even suicide. With one in five Americans afflicted with a mental health issue at any given time, this is a serious consequence. For more information on how to create psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces and maximize the potential of millennials—and all employees—see my book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire.

If you have coworkers—especially millennials—who are suffering, I urge you to reach out to them. As I indicated in recent articles about suicide resulting from workplace bullying and living with a person with mental illness, no one has to go this alone. There are resources for help. Choose to be an ally and advocate instead of a bystander. You can make a difference in someone’s life.