If I’m not perfect, I’m not worth anything.”

This type of thought is something that goes through the heads of college students on a daily basis – and it’s only getting worse.

In a recent study, it has been found that “young people’s desire to be flawless has skyrocketed over the past thirty years…between 1989 and 2016, self-oriented perfectionism scores increased by 10 percent, other -oriented perfectionism increased by 16 percent, and socially-prescribed perfectionism increased by a whopping 33 percent.”

The study focused specifically on these three types of perfectionism: Self-oriented focuses on the need for oneself to be perfect, other-oriented focuses on placing unrealistic standards of perfection on others, and socially-prescribed focuses on receiving expectations of ‘perfection’ from others.

“In reflecting on our findings…one issue of special relevance is the harm and psychological difficulties that might accompany an increase in perfectionism. According to the most recent global health estimates from the World Health Organization (2017), serious mental illness afflicts a record number of young people. In the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, young people are experiencing higher levels of depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation than they did a decade ago…” stated Thomas Curran, the lead author of the study.

As society has advanced, the pressure on younger people to achieve in academics, to receive a college degree, and to find a career has risen by “80 percent” from 1976. This need to be ‘perfect’ is linked directly to this generation’s sense of worth and their need to feel successful and safe.

Unfortunately, as the need to uphold these high standards increases, psychological well-being will only continue to fall.