"Don't call us snowflakes"

Wellbeing research from Aviva finds that young adults object to ‘Generation Snowflake’ label, saying it is unfair and offensive.

Young adults are hitting back at the ‘Generation Snowflake’ moniker, saying it is unfair and potentially damaging to their age group. 

The ‘snowflake’ term is sometimes used to describe young adults, who are seen as being more prone to taking offence, more emotionally vulnerable and less resilient than previous generations.

According to a study by Aviva health insurance, nearly three quarters of people (72%) aged 16-24 said the term is unfairly applied to people in this age bracket, while a similar number (74%) feel it could have a negative effect on people’s mental health. 

While these views are most marked amongst young adults, the majority of UK adults agree that the ‘Generation Snowflake’ term is unhelpful: 58% of adults feel the label is unfairly applied, while 57% feel it could negatively impact young people’s mental health. 

Six out of 10 UK adults (59%) also agree that young people are facing greater challenges than previous generations, and a similar number (57%) feel that society should be more understanding and sympathetic towards young adults.

A separate study released by Aviva today suggests that young adults in this age group (aged 16-24) are the worst-affected by mental health issues. They are more likely to say they have experienced a mental health condition (63% v 47% UK adults) and are the least comfortable discussing their mental health problems (33% vs 27% all UK adults), suggesting millions of young adults could be going undiagnosed or ignored. They are also least likely to feel they are receiving the right treatment for their issues (15% vs 10% UK adults).

Nearly half (46%) of young adults say they have suffered from anxiety in the past 12 months, significantly higher than UK adults (35%). Depression is also more common amongst this younger age group (39% vs 30% UK adults). 

Across the UK, stress was found to be the most common mental health condition among UK adults of all ages, with 37% having experienced stress over the past year. This rose to 45% for young adults and while 17% of UK adults said they feel stressed every day, this climbed to 28% for young adults.

  Young Adults UK Adults (16 +) 
Uncomfortable telling people about a mental health problem 33% 27%
Experiencing a mental health condition but haven’t sought help 13% 7%
Experiencing a mental health condition but do not believe they’re receiving the right treatment 15% 10%
Experienced stress in the last year 45% 37%
Experienced anxiety in the last year 46% 35%
Experienced depression in the last year 39% 30%

Of the young adults who have experienced a mental health problem, body image appears to be one of the key contributors amongst this age group. A third (33%) of young adults cite unhappiness with their appearance as one of the main causes of their mental health problems, compared to just 18% of all UK adults. Money worries (42%) is the only issue rated more highly than body image for young adults.

Dr Doug Wright, Medical Director, Aviva UK Health comments:

“Our findings suggest that young adults are more likely to be experiencing mental health problems, so using a phrase which criticises this age group could add to this issue. Any term used disparagingly to a segment of the population is inherently negative.

“While young adults in particular appear to take offence to the ‘snowflake’ label, the majority of adults agree that the term is unfair and unhelpful, so it’s important that people consider how such labels are used, and the cumulative effect they could have on their recipients.”  

Click here to see the Wellbeing Report from Aviva.


Media Enquiries: 

Aviva Press Office:  

Sarah Poulter | 07800 691569 | Sarah.poulter@aviva.com 

Monique Crockett | 07800 693182 | Monique.crockett@aviva.com

Jess Geoghegan | 07800 695673 | Jess.geoghegan@aviva.com 


Snowflake research is based on a survey of 2,022 nationally representative UK adults aged 16 and above carried out by Censuswide in November 2017.The mental health research is based on a survey of 4,205 nationally representative UK adults aged 16 and above carried out by Censuswide in November 2017.  

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