Nation’s Unemployed Experiencing Grip of Depression

Many people, even those who may not particularly enjoy their jobs, are nevertheless able to feel a sense of self-worth and meaning from the process of producing a good or service that is of use to other people. In fact, several studies have suggested that returning to work on a volunteer basis after retirement can have a significantly positive impact on mental health, as employees-–no matter their field–tend to feel more involved and valued by others when devoting their time to work. That’s why there is a growing concern among the nation’s therapists and other mental health professionals as rates of unemployment reach surprising heights. Though many people experiencing mental and emotional difficulties as a result of unemployment may seek the assistance of counseling or another type of treatment, others are making the choice to volunteer their time with employers who may not have the financial ability to meet their staffing needs, creating a potentially positive value for everyone involved.

While some people affected by high unemployment levels may feel unable to afford volunteer work, others note that their fruitless attempts to find jobs have left them with ample periods of free, and potentially wasted, time. Using this time to volunteer, whether it’s helping stores through the holiday rush or working with local schoolchildren for after school programs or other venues, volunteers often report feeling uplifted by their involvement, even if it lacks an element they’ve been hoping to see again for months, if not years-–a steady paycheck.

With reports suggesting that unemployment is likely to remain a considerable issue even as the economy picks up, finding meaningful ways of fending off depression and other mental health concerns is likely to become an even more pressing issue among Americans. With volunteer work, those struggling with feelings of uselessness and isolation may find that helping out can be a wonderful bridge back to regular employment.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • donald


    December 25th, 2009 at 10:50 AM

    I have been through this myself. I didn’t have a job for over a year about three years ago, and felt so worthless! Everytime I saw people looking at me, I felt like they are thinking to themselves about what a worthless person I was. This feeling was killing me and soon became a more prominent reason to somehow find a job more than even the need of money. Luckily I found one and as the days passed by, the feeling went away too.

  • Cathy Weasley

    Cathy Weasley

    December 25th, 2009 at 11:00 AM

    A person can really undergo stress while being unemployed. As if lack of money is not enough of a bad thing, some families will even taunt an unemployed person and this can lead to major effects mentally for that person.

  • Amy


    December 25th, 2009 at 4:26 PM

    Volunteering for a good cause or organization helps you to feel involved, to feel important again, even when you are unable to bring in a paycheck at this time. No one should be ashamed of not having a job right now, they are so hard to come by. But it can be tough when you are used to being the breadwinner and so many people in your home are counting on you to help them make ends meet.

  • Ben G.

    Ben G.

    December 26th, 2009 at 9:40 AM

    I am still in highschool and atleast a couple of years away from getting a full time job, but I have already made a policy for myself – I will join work, no matter what the designation is, it is much better than having no job at all!

  • Sally


    December 27th, 2009 at 6:26 AM

    If you have never had the opportunity to work with the needy and give a little of your time you have no idea just how rewarding volunteer work can be. These are people who need more than money, they need your time and your energy and for many of these groups that is the best gift that you could ever share with them. I know that being unemployed can be heartbreaking but another job will come along. In the meantime while you have the time you will get a great deal of reward working with others and helping them to get back on their feet while you are working and doing the exact same thing. I got involved with volunteer work when we started going to a new church a few years ago and I am so thankful that I did. It allows me to help others to get to a better place but it also puts me in a better place spiritually as well.

  • jerry richards

    jerry richards

    December 28th, 2009 at 2:14 AM

    Unemployment rates are far higher than the official figures… the government does this for obvious reasons. Although the stimulus packages have brought relief, they are largely beneficient to failing corporations and are not quite aimed at reducing unemployment rates.

  • Ricky B

    Ricky B

    December 28th, 2009 at 12:07 PM

    When the bills are piling up and no money is coming in it is awfully hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Gordon Mcculloch

    Gordon Mcculloch

    December 29th, 2009 at 2:20 AM

    It is extremely difficult to adjust when the lifestyle that you have enjoyed for years is all of a sudden out of your reach and you have a family to take care of. You look for a new job but are turned down everywhere because jobs are not available at all… Newer policies and a faster recovery are the only things that can improve the situation considerably.

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Title   Content   Author is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on