The 20-question Matters of the Mind survey, produced by journalism students at American University in spring 2015, was shared online with various communities from March 25 to April 10. When it closed, 890 millennials — defined as those between 18 and 32 years old — had responded.
The survey was designed to accept responses only from people who identified as being within the millennial age range.
Survey experts, journalists, mental health professionals and reporters on the Matters of the Mind team reviewed survey questions. Questions focused on millennials’ attitudes toward, and perceptions of, stress and mental health. We are grateful for the guidance of Professor Maria Ivancin, a market research expert, in producing this survey.
Respondents likely would have included peers, friends, colleagues and acquaintances of students in the Writing and Editing for Convergent Media class and their extended networks. This is called “network surveying.” It is an informal method for distributing a survey quickly. To increase demographic diversity in gender, race and geography, we also reached out to the following online communities: Facebook groups, email threads and online forums. While this does not constitute scientific random sampling, our results are mostly consistent with similar academic and professional research findings.
Respondents for our survey identified as 86 percent White, 6 percent Black/African-American, 7 percent Asian, 7 percent Hispanic, one percent American Indian/Alaskan Native, and one percent other. Two percent preferred not to state their racial/ethnic identity. In terms of gender identity, respondents were 73 percent female and 25 percent male; one percent identified as other, and one percent preferred not to say.
While the demographics of our respondents do not align perfectly with general millennial demographics in the U.S., other surveys on this topic indeed have encountered the same challenge. Some experts note that women are more likely to share on this topic.
Anonymous comments from respondents included those grateful for the opportunity to speak out. “I appreciate this survey,” wrote one. “I totally agree that mental health isn’t given attention and is a topic many people are afraid to discuss.”
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