The farther we get into the ongoing economic recession, the more apparent the consequences of the recession become. Early on, quantifiable losses such as unemployment numbers, loss of income, foreclosure statistics, and the like painted a concrete picture of the tangible effects of trying economic times. But new information on the recession’s psychological toll looks deeper into the unseen challenges facing not only those who have lost jobs, but also those who have maintained employment.
Employees who have lost their jobs or seen wage or salary reductions have been hit the hardest, both financially and psychologically. Adults who are unemployed are four times more likely to deal with mental illness than are their employed counterparts. Yet, when they lose their jobs, they also lose access to both employer-sponsored counseling services, as well as to the financial resources for seeking independent counseling. The financial stresses of being unemployed, especially when trying to support a family, add anxiety, stress, and depression to an already challenging situation. In addition, losing the social interaction of a work community and the support network of coworkers can further contribute to psychological challenges after being laid off.
However, it’s not just the unemployed who suffer. Seeing coworkers lose their jobs can create an environment of instability and fear. This triggers anxiety which can result in a lack of motivation and decreased productivity. In addition, employees who retain their jobs while coworkers are let go can also experience survivors’ guilt. Plus, studies show that even a small reduction in hours or pay, when not undertaken by choice, can trigger psychological concerns: recent surveys show that such employees are twice as likely to exhibit signs of severe mental illness. These findings reinforce the need for access to counseling and therapy, both within workplaces and outside of them, to help ensure that economic instability causes as little psychological instability as possible.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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