Survey: Unemployment has negative effect on mental state

Unemployed workers have been shown to be more likely to develop mental illnesses than the employed Workers forced into unemployment or a reduced role at their jobs are more likely to exhibit symptoms of mental illness, according to a new survey released by Mental Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The survey, which was conducted via telephone among a sample of 500 men and 502 women 18 years of age and older, found that unemployed workers were four times more likely than those with jobs to have symptoms "consistent with severe mental illness."

Workers with jobs who experienced an "involuntary change" to their employment situation, such as taking pay cuts or working reduced hours, were found to be twice as likely to have the same symptoms.

Unemployed workers were also twice as likely to be concerned about their mental health or use of drugs/alcohol, while 42 percent of those who had not consulted a physician about their concerns cited debt consolidation and the lack of insurance as their primary reason for avoiding the doctor.

"This survey clearly shows that economic difficulties are placing the public’s mental health at serious risk, and we need affirmative action to address these medical problems," said Dr. David L. Shern, president and CEO of Mental Health America. "Individuals confronting these problems should seek help for their problems – talk to their doctor, trusted friend or advisor or mental health professional."

The survey’s release comes in the midst of Mental Illness Awareness Week, which is being held from October 4 to October 10, and on the verge of National Depression Screening Day, which takes place on October 8.