Unemployment and Mental Health

Want to know what you can do to help your mindset when looking for a new role? Our fabulous partner Tracey Salisbury, CV Prime has provided some thoughts on this in this blog for us.

Unemployment can be a challenging time for many people.  Many reasons can cause an individual to become unemployed, including redundancy, dismissal, career breaks, ill health, or taking time off for family leave to name a few.

Searching for a new role can be difficult. Some of the most common concerns people experience are:

  • Re-entering the job market after having been in your role for a long time
  • Explaining gaps on your CV to a new employer
  • Changes in your own priorities and needs, especially if you have been unwell 
  • Attending interviews, this could be related to lack of confidence or “imposter syndrome”
  • Receiving knock backs and applications not being successful
  • Knowing how to look for a role – producing CVs and documents, or having access to online job search tools 
  • Finding a role which fits in with other commitments (childcare, caring responsibilities)

Alongside this, there are often pressures to find new work quickly – whether these are financial pressures, family pressures or your own expectations of yourself.

Being unemployed has many effects on individuals. For many, it can be a period of time where mental health can be affected.  Many studies have been conducted which look at the effect of unemployment on mental health and suicide rates. 

One of the largest of these studies to date was conducted between 2000 – 2011, looking at 63 countries over an 11 year period which included the 2008 recession.  This research was particularly useful as it reviewed a long period of time, not just the difficult economic period. 

The findings, which were undertaken on a worldwide scale, were:

  • Between 2000 and 2011, 1 in 5 (20%) of an estimated 233,000 annual suicides were linked to unemployment
  • In countries where being out of work is uncommon, there was a stronger link between suicide and unemployment
  • 4,983 excess suicides were directly attributed to the 2008 recession
  • Although unemployment did have a link to suicide, other factors such as depression and poor health also played a large part 

More recent studies have found similar results; therefore it is unanimously accepted that unemployment causes increases to mental health concerns and suicide rates.

If you are in the position of seeking a new role, or feeling that your current role is at risk, there are some steps you can take:

  1. Look after yourself – take your time to apply for jobs, review each application carefully and remain resilient to rejections
  2. Seek feedback from unsuccessful applications – this will give you tips and advice that you can apply to future job searches
  3. Seek support from those around you – reach out to your family, friends, colleagues and professional networks – many jobs are found by recommendation or word of mouth
  4. Understand the current recruitment methods or requirements – look at online sites, contact agencies, register your interest in key sectors or companies
  5. Be prepared – have your CV and cover letter ready so you only have to tweak it for each application 
  6. Sell yourself – don’t be afraid to talk about your achievements and successes. Let your personality and passion shine through 
  7. Contact your GP or other support services if you become concerned about your mental, or physical, health. It is better to seek proactive support as early as possible

Through my career in CV writing, HR, and as a Mental Health First Aider, I have supported many individuals with their job search.  Very often, it only takes one session for individuals to draw out their skills, identify their strengths and understand the job market.  This doesn’t even need be a formal session, it could be notes you make on your own that you can add to and refer to throughout your job search. 

Unemployment and Mental Health