Unlike in some countries around the world, in the U.S. our jobs tend to define who we are. Paid work can represent our role, our purpose, our social life and our structured time each day. Yet , nine percent of the population in the U.S. is unemployed. For Latinos, the unemployment rate is close to twelve percent.
So what happens to a person’s mental state when they lose a job or have trouble finding one?
Feelings of anxiety, sadness or depression:
Being unemployed can cause a person to feel less happy, or lead to depression or another mental health problem. When you’re unemployed not only is your income gone, your daily routine and your relationships with coworkers, friends and family may change. The unemployed may have low-self esteem, be anxious and feel their life is out of control. People who are out of work may have some of the same feelings and stresses than a person who goes through a divorce, lost a loved one or got seriously injured may experience. Studies have shown that the effect of unemployment on mental health is greater for people 30 to 50 years old and for men more than women.
What you can do:
If you or someone you know is unemployed and may be suffering from depression or another mental health illness:
- Get help. Find free or low-cost mental health services in your community.
- Surround yourself with friends and family. Share your feelings and create a support network.
- Keep looking for a job to avoid becoming depressed. Sign up for job training and job placement services, if you haven’t already.
- Join a networking group or unemployment support group.
- Create a healthy regular routine. Make sure you include job-training activities, searching for a job and exercise. Volunteering and having a hobby can help you stay positive. Each night write down a plan with activities and goals for the next day.
Importance of mental health treatment for the unemployed:
Mental health treatment is important for two reasons:
1) If a person with a mental health problem continues to be unemployed and their condition is not treated, they may have a difficult time recovering and even performing well at work once they get a job.
2) People with a mental health problem are more likely to become unemployed or hold lower paying jobs.
Depression and job dissatisfaction:
Take note when getting back in the workplace that studies have found that people who were unemployed but got a new unsatisfying job that is demanding, makes them feel they don’t have control, offers little job security or they feel is unfair, could become even more depressed.
Reviewed by Kelly Brown, M.A., Licensed Professional Counselor
Find resources and help:
Find job training and placement services: CareerOneStop