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Brief Published: 29 Mar 2021

Midlife Burnout: Spotlighting Later-Adulthood Mental Health

Some 20% of Gen X and 15% of baby boomers agree their mental health was at its worst during middle age

Younger generations are often the focus of contemporary mental health conversations (see Beyond Burnout). In reality, midlife consumers experience the biggest spike of psychological distress symptoms, including anxiety and depression. We survey the middle-age mental health landscape and highlight opportunities for brands to make supportive inroads with this demographic.

  • The Midlife Peak: January-published research from University College London (UCL) has found that, across generations, consumers experience the most amount of psychological distress in their 40s and 50s. Some 20% of surveyed Gen X (born 1965-1980) and 15% of baby boomers (born 1946-1964) agree their mental health was at its worst at this age.
    As we note in Unmasking the Midlife Opportunity, brands need to wise up to the pressures facing midlifers and curate relevant initiatives to bolster this cohort’s mental health.
  • The Unfairer Sex: UCL’s study also found that women’s mental health is more adversely impacted than their male counterparts even at the same age. Almost a quarter (23%) of women Gen Xers reported midlife psychological distress, compared to 17% of men. This trend replicates in baby boomer results with women reporting higher instances of poor mental wellbeing than men (24% vs 14%). We dive into the issues impacting middle-aged women’s emotional and physical wellbeing in Midlife Women & Wellness.
  • Supporting the C-Suite: Workplace wellness is a rich space for brands to step into, especially as many employees have experienced increased mental health issues owing to the pandemic (see The Silent Pandemic and The Brief). A recent US-based survey found that C-Suite executives (generally in the midlife demographic) have suffered more mental health complaints in the workplace (53%) than their employees (45%) during the pandemic. Brands should target the 34% of C-Suite executives who miss workplace culture with virtual platforms that replicate real-life interactions – see The Brief.