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The Impact of Unemployment and Underemployment on Mental Health

Feb 9, 2021 | Career, Well-Being

Millions around the world are coping with economic upheaval, layoffs, and underemployment caused by Covid-19. The nation’s youngest workers started 2020 with an opportunity to launch their careers into one of the hottest job markets in years. They ended 2020 in the most volatile job markets ever for young people and recent graduates.

The unemployment rate for young people aged 20 to 24 was 12.5% in September 2020, the highest among the adult population. However, unemployment for them peaked at the height of the pandemic last April, at nearly 26% – higher than any previous recession since 1940.

Whether temporary or permanent, unemployment and underemployment can lead to stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges. If you have been left unemployed due to the recent pandemic you may find yourself feeling angry, lost, worried, unappreciated and questioning your sense of purpose.

Here are a few ways you can start managing your thoughts and emotions moving forward:

1. Accept your feelings

When your brain kicks into high-gear it’s important to remember to step back for a moment, take a deep breath and accept that what you are feeling is perfectly normal – and most importantly, give yourself credit for doing the best you can under the circumstances.

2. Maintain perspective

Try to bear in mind that the pandemic is forcing many companies to make tough decisions. These decisions are related to the Covid-19 pandemic, not your worth.

3. Seek out resources

If you’re having difficulty providing yourself or your family with basic necessities and you need help, turn to community resources for assistance. Everyone needs the basics, like food and shelter. Similarly, don’t forget to take care of your mental needs as well.

4. Find your value

If you find that you connect your sense of self-worth to your work, try looking for new ways to recognize the contributions you make to the world around you. Try making a list identifying your strengths and skills. This can help you remember that you always have these qualities – whether you’re working or not.

5. Take care of yourself

Finally, if you find yourself unemployed due to the pandemic, remember that while you can’t control what happens to you, you can ultimately control how you respond. Try out these strategies to support your mental and emotional well-being as you navigate the days ahead.