Posted By: LexisNexis Occupational Injuries
& Illnesses Staff
June 25, 2009
Reported by: Shanine A. Fortuno
August 6, 2012
Ms. Grace E. Engallado, DBM
The Psychological Impact of Unemployment
Posted by:: LexisNexis Occupational Injuries & Illnesses Staff 06/25/2009 02:06:25 AM EST
Unemployment, particularly when unexpected or involuntary, may take its toll on mental health. A large body of scientific evidence demonstrates convincing evidence that unemployed people manifest lower levels of psychological well-being than do their employed peers.
Unemployment has been linked with a number of psychological disorders, particularly anxiety, depression, and substance abuse; dangerous behaviors including suicide and violence toward family members or others also correlate with unemployment. These associations hold true not only in surveys of those already unemployed but also in studies that follow one or several individuals with no psychological difficulties into a period of unemployment. Such findings have been reported from many industrialized nations and, with some minor variations, apply to workers of both sexes and all ages.
Research regarding the consequences of unemployment may be confounded by a commensurate loss of income in subjects being studied. However, some studies try to account for this phenomenon of drop in socioeconomic status. Although an alert health care system may provide some needed assistance, resolution of the problem lies outside the field of medicine.
Supporting evidence regarding the association between unemployment and psychological trouble comes primarily from studies of populations--epidemiologic studies--that show a significant relationship between unemployment and psychological stress on every scale, from neighborhood or workplace cohort to entire continents. Research on unemployed individuals, especially when it has been possible to follow them longitudinally over a period of time spanning unexpected job loss, further supports the idea of a close connection.
Although there are variations specific outcomes, these findings generally seem to hold for all industrialized countries that have been studied. The data are also valid across gender and age barriers.
History and Definition
Unemployment often results from a complex and interwoven set of economic, social, or political forces that are well beyond the reach of the medical practitioner. The health care system as a whole can only respond to the effects of this external pressure. Thus, interest in joblessness as a public health concern has grown rapidly since the mid-1970s, reflecting the widespread and sustained growth in levels of unemployment in most industrialized countries.
In the period between 1960-1973, unemployment in G4 Europe (France, West Germany, Italy, and UK) was 2.6%. Reflecting a steady rise in the absolute and percentage numbers of unemployed, G4 Europe (now including a united ) posted a 9.4% unemployment between 1990-2000. While the has been spared this dramatic change in unemployment rates until recently, many studies in the focus on particular regions or particular industries in which unemployment has increased or has occurred unexpectedly. In discussing the psychological effects of involuntary unemployment, it is important to remember that the term unemployment is used in a variety of ways. The lack of employment for individuals who possess the capacity to perform work may meet the most common definition. However, this lumping of all individuals who are not working may miss the mark. Not all individuals capable of work are actively seeking jobs. For example, a 19-year-old college student half-heartedly looking for summer work may be ''unemployed'' in the standard sense of the word but may not suffer the same psychological stress as a mid-level manager who is laid off unexpectedly after many years on the job.