Friday 20 October 2017

Tough old birds: Are those born in the 1940s and '50s emotionally more robust than the younger generation?

Mary Kenny
Mary Kenny

They've been dubbed the 'snowflake generation' - those young people born sometime in the 1990s, and now of student age: over-protected, highly sensitive to being offended, and more likely than previous generations to report mental health problems. 'Generation Snowflake' was a phrase coined by Claire Fox, the 56-year-old British libertarian intellectual from an Irish Catholic background (who ascribes some of her own robust attitudes to schooling by Irish nuns).

It's hardly fair to describe a whole generation as over-fragile. There have always been sensitive souls who got upset easily, and there have always been those with a tough skin. But the social studies do tend to claim that the 'baby-boom' generation (those born after the Second World War and into the 1950s) have hardier mental health than the generations born after the 1970s.

The British journal Psychological Medicine, drawing on studies of 19,000 people across the generations, recently indicated that mental health issues had increased among the younger generations. One academic, Dr George Ploubidis from University College London, underlined a higher than average level of "psychological distress" among those born in the 1970s - the forty-something generation now. And he suggests that it could get worse for younger generations in the future.

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