[S]ymptoms of depression, paranoia and psychopathology have increased among generations of American college students from 1938 to 2007, according to a statistical review published in 2010 in Clinical Psychology Review. Researchers at San Diego State University who conducted the analysis pointed to increasing cultural emphasis in the U.S. on materialism and status, which emphasize hedonic happiness, and decreasing attention to community and meaning in life, as possible explanations.
Amid great inequality there will always be penalties if you just try to be yourself. That is hard, but it's okay. There is a kind of suffering that is necessary for personal growth, and it's important to be able to identify that and accept it. For example, if you suffer for something you strongly believe in, as a reflection of who you are, yes, you will suffer, but you will also know who you are. When the suffering subsides, you will still have this knowledge of yourself -- a possession that will not expire.
On the other hand, we bear a much greater penalty when we try to avoid all suffering, by pursuing only the repeated, short-term happiness that is promoted by consumerism; or the concomitant status that comes from "choosing instead to measure up to the standards of others." Unfortunately, much of school is geared to this status-model, where what we produce need only satisfy the teacher's criteria for approval, irrespective of whether it relates in any way to our own.
If you read the article you will see that they are basically counterposing the advent of consumerism with "community and meaning in life" -- i.e. some other social system altogether, certainly if we believe that everyone should partake in it. We don't have anything like that yet, but we do have enormous psychological suffering amongst even very well-off people, whose burden is no doubt compounded by every social indicator which insists they are successful and doing everything right!