Survey examines unemployment and mental illness

    Mental health experts are worried that the tough economy is putting people at higher risk for mental illness. A new survey of over 1000 people takes a look at the impact of unemployment.

    Mental health experts are worried that the tough economy is putting people at higher risk for mental illness. A new survey of over 1000 people takes a look at the impact of unemployment.

    Listen:

    [audio:091007msjobless.mp3]

    Conducted by several mental health organizations, the new survey finds that people who are unemployed are four times as likely as their employed peers to experience symptoms of mental illness.

    Dr. David Shern, President of Mental Health America, says the chronic stress of not knowing what’s next can cause depression and anxiety. He says feeling depressed over job loss and change can also result in a vicious cycle:

    Shern: Part of the insidious nature of depression is that it makes it even more difficult for people to get into action to address important issues in their life. They then observe themselves in terms of their inability, the difficulty to get back into action and that makes them even more depressed.

    Villanova University Business professor Ronald Hill says how lay-offs are handled is very important for the well-being of employees:

    Hill: How would you want somebody to let your mother or father or somebody you love very deeply go – and when you use that frame of reference, you begin to use a different kind of humanity.

    He says employers can offer help and hope to their former employees:

    Hill: In some cases, they even look to their competitors and say we have good people available we just can’t use them at this time. The other thing that can happen in a lay-off too is to let them know that they are going to be invited back, that they are first people who will come back when the economy changes.

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