Job loss is ranked in the top 10 most traumatic life events experienced by an individual. And so, it should. Job loss can cause considerable disruption in a person’s life, robbing them of their identity, sense of purpose and means of living and providing for their family.
One in three unemployed Australians are understood to encounter a mental health issue, with anxiety and depression being the most commonly reported disorders. However the impact of job loss and unemployment on an individual’s mental health can range from mild impairment to complete debilitation.
The latest National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing found 29% of unemployed persons reported suffering a mental illness (vs. 20% in the employed population); 11% were struggling with a substance use disorder (vs. 6% employed); and more females were unemployed compared to males (34% vs. 26%). The Australian Bureau of Statistics identified over 300,000 young unemployed Australians to be some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
The relationship between mental health issues and unemployment remains unclear but there are numerous theories on the topic. Some suggest the loss of a job can be conceptualized as the loss of access to five important latent psychological benefits of employment over and above the manifest function of earning money. Psychological benefits include time structure, social contact, collective purpose, status and activity. Interestingly, some individuals continue to have these needs met despite their unemployment status, enabling them to maintain well-being throughout an unemployment period. However some unemployed people are unable to have these psychological needs met. These individuals tend to experience more disruption in their personal circumstances and are at risk of mental health deterioration.
For job loss to be experienced as stressful, it needs to be evaluated as taxing available personal resources and as harmful, threatening, or a loss of something important. This suggests that an individual’s personal resources, cognitive biases and appraisals become important in determining whether the experience of unemployment is interpreted as stressful.
At Pure Insights, we understand individual resilience factors to be strongly linked to positive mental health outcomes over and above human capital or demographics in an unemployed population. We see the benefits to individuals having access to resilience-screening and resilience-building programs whether they have recently experienced job loss, are managing the disappointment of countless unsuccessful job applications or suffering from long-term unemployment. Cultivating resilience after job loss and periods of unemployment is critical and the earlier individuals receive support to build self-esteem, self-efficacy and emotional stability the better the likelihood of increasing their job-readiness and getting them reemployed.
If you or someone you know has experienced job loss; if you are trying to manage the disappointment of unsuccessful job applications; or if you are suffering from the impacts of longer-term unemployment please reach out to us. We understand the detrimental impact of these circumstances on your life and we have a range of programs and skilled professionals to help reduce the burden of unemployment, increase your job-readiness and reemployment opportunities.
The Pure Insights team is skilled in identifying feelings of anxiety, depression, social isolation and low self-worth typically encountered during unemployment. We are also skilled in identifying symptoms suggestive of more severe psychological problems (i.e. insomnia, changes in appetite, difficulty concentrating, loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities, emotional instability, suicide ideation). However if you feel you need more immediate and urgent help please contact any of the following organisations:
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Suicide Call-back Service – 1300 659 467
NSW Mental Health Access Line – 1800 011 511
For more specific support services, please click on this link https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/national-help-lines-and-websites