If you have job issues that are affecting your mental health from the pandemic, you are not alone
Given the surge in the UK unemployment rate, according to the latest ONS figures, a new report warns that unemployment and job insecurity will have a profound effect on mental health across the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Next week, the budget will call for sustainable government action to protect people from these effects. The Mental Health Foundation calls on both local and national governments to provide practical and emotional support for hundreds of thousands of people struggling with unemployment.
The report, published by the Mental Health Foundation and Cochrane Common Mental Disorders, highlighted several mental health implications of rising unemployment. For example, it has been found that increased job insecurity increases the risk of depressive symptoms, while unemployment negatively affects self-esteem and increases feelings of distress.
Research also shows that job insecurity does not affect all groups equally. Those who work in precarious jobs are likely to earn much less than the average worker, are more likely to be key workers, and more likely to come from black, Asian, and ethnic minorities. This suggests that these groups may be among the groups at greatest risk of the adverse effects of job insecurity and unemployment.
Commenting on the study, Mark Rowland, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “The rising unemployment that we are experiencing as a country has costs to society that are more than just financial. There are serious mental health consequences for the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their jobs since the pandemic began.
“If we are to prevent a mental health crisis, we must do much more to provide practical and emotional support to people who have been affected by unemployment during and after the pandemic.”
“We call on UK governments to step up the protective measures they are taking to mitigate the mental health impact of the pandemic.”
The charity made several policy recommendations in the report aimed at enabling a stronger support network for those who are losing their jobs. These include:
- Supporting calls from Citizens Advice to make the universal credit increase permanent.
- Call for benefits to keep up with the cost of living.
- Call on the government to build on existing support to prevent low-income households from falling into debt with their utilities.
- Recommend that each local authority develop a clear roadmap for their local population to help people cope with redundancy and unemployment, including details of available services and support.
“Mental health protection isn’t just and shouldn’t be ours as individuals,” added Mark.
“As this pandemic has shown, major external changes such as job loss can have a significant impact on our mental well-being and our ability to recover from setbacks. If we are to rebuild a thriving economy after the pandemic, we need to make mental health a priority – in our social systems, our local government, our schools and workplaces. “
How to take care of your mental health through unemployment
Navigating around job insecurity, unemployment, or layoffs can have a huge impact on our mental health and self-esteem.
Psychotherapist and life coach Christine Elvin says, “Money worries can be demoralizing and your self-esteem will suffer if you let them get you down. Applications can be daunting and time consuming as time, energy and effort are wasted if you don’t even get confirmation that your application has been received by the right department, let alone an interview. “
It can be tempting to spend every waking hour looking for new jobs, but putting this extra burden on yourself won’t help. It is important to take the time to take care of yourself, regularly groom yourself, and spend time with loved ones.
“Remember, you are not the only one in this situation and at some point things will change,” says Christine. “If you apply for a job every day and it gets you in trouble, maybe apply a few times a week so that you can get away from the stress of application forms.”
If the pandemic has affected your work situation, whether you’ve recently been laid off, unemployed or considering a career change, you can get professional help.
If you are in a bad mood and struggling to come to terms with your situation, speaking with a counselor can be helpful. Redundancy advice helps you find a way forward.
When you feel ready to take the next step in your career, working with a coach can help you figure out what you really want to do. A coach will listen to you but also question you and challenge you to discover a side of you that you didn’t know you had.
To learn more about coaching and how it can help you during a time of discomfort, or to find a coach near you or online, visit the Life Coach Directory.
The full report “State of a Generation: Upheaval, Insecurity and Change” is available on the Mental Health Foundation website.