The impact of generational identity on psychology: Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 and are quickly approaching retirement age. They might be the most well-known generation in history and their influence is far-reaching. They used their influence and were instrumental in the civil rights movement, Woodstock and the Vietnam War. They were named “Baby Boomers” as a result of the population explosion that occurred after soldiers returned home from World War II. Those soldiers quickly became parents and the resulting population grew to 74 million strong.
The influence of Baby Boomers
The Baby Boomers were the soldiers of the civil rights and women’s movements and, as a result, have helped close the gender gap in society. This “flower power” generation experienced dramatic shifts in educational, economic and social opportunities leading to equality in the workplace and in society among genders and races. Because of this generation, a black woman has the same opportunities as a white man. Although legally speaking this is true today, there are still many different constraints that have kept this gender and racial gap open.
Like the Traditionalists, the Baby Boomers are firmly rooted and believe in the 9-to-5 work mentality of corporate America. They wear a suit and tie, and keep a rigid work schedule, a very different mindset from the Millennial generation. While Baby Boomers are known for their strong battles to help equalize society, they may pose a financial burden on the economy due to their huge population and need for more funding for Social Security and Medicare. Due to the financial hardships that this generation is facing because of budget constraints, many of them are choosing to stay in the workforce past the age of 65 to have more financial security as well as a sense of self-identity.
Mental health among the Baby Boomers
Depression is still high in this generation as they are becoming elderly, but this population is more willing to seek help from a professional for not only their medical conditions but their mental health as well, lifting the stigma of mental illness in society. Their stress levels still remain high as many Baby Boomers financially assist their adult children and some may even care for their living parents. Although there are no specific studies that differentiate the statistics on depression between Traditionalists and Baby Boomers, depression rates are likely the same among both of these generations; however, the increase in seeking treatment among Baby Boomers will hopefully decrease the rate of depression among this population.
For many, the Vietnam War and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) go hand in hand. This generation fought in the war and, as a result, many men have PTSD. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry revealed that “even 40 years after the war ended — about 271,000 Vietnam vets have full war-zone-related PTSD plus war-zone PTSD that meets some diagnostic criteria. More than a third of the veterans who have current war-zone PTSD also have major depressive disorder.”
Taking the bad with the good
Although the Baby Boomer philosophy of corporate America is fading due to new innovative thinking by younger generations, Baby Boomers still prefer to work the 9-to-5 shift in the office, a preference younger generations do not share. To their credit, they did initiate the effort for job equality, which is a huge contribution to society.
Written by Kristen Fuller, M.D., Sovereign Health Group writer
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