Unemployment and job loss

Stress from being unemployed can affect your physical and mental health

The recent economic crisis has impacted many Scottish companies and organisations, causing increased levels of stress and anxiety for individuals and families because of uncertainty, debt or unemployment. This can be worse if you’re not able to work due to depression or other mental health problems.

Maintaining wellbeing

Taking care of yourself will help you to stay in good shape so you are able to cope well with life’s difficulties. It will also prepare you for your return back to work when a job opportunity comes up or you’re well enough to go back to work.

  • Talk to family, friends and colleagues; express your feelings and concerns.
  • Find a support group for people in similar circumstances. Visit our self-help support groups page to find out if we run a group in your area or check at your local library.
  • Look after yourself. Give your body enough sleep and rest.
  • Drink sensibly. Excessive drinking is ineffective and an expensive way to deal with difficult feelings. The effects of alcohol on mood are short-lived and when the drink wears off, you will feel worse. Too much alcohol can make depression worse.
  • Eat healthily. Concentrate on fibre rich food such as wholemeal bread, fruit, vegetables and fish. Drink plenty of water. Find out more about food and mood.
  • Keep active. Physical activity stimulates production of endorphins, the body’s natural antidepressants. It will make you feel energised and positive.
  • Ask for help. Look for all possible sources of support among individuals, groups and organisations. If coping is getting hard, don’t hesitate to contact your GP. Email Action on Depression if you would like more help
  • You may benefit from talking to a counsellor or a therapist. They provide regular emotional support and guidance.
  • If you are currently too unwell to work give yourself time to recover. You have an illness and like any illness, you’ll feel better sooner if you take time to recover.
  • Don’t ignore financial problems, they only become worse.

The impact of unemployment

Work plays an important role in many people’s lives. It provides money and a source of social support. Many people feel that their job defines them and their place in the world, so losing that job can feel like a loss of status and even a loss of identity. This can affect confidence and self-esteem.

If you lose your job the most important source of support is strong relationships with family and friends. It is therefore important to talk openly about your feelings with those who care about you. In situations that leave you angry, confused or sad, family and friends can lift up your spirits and keep you motivated.

Children need to feel included in what is going on too. It is best to explain the situation to them in ways they will understand, according to their age. Reassure them that unemployment is not forever and that their routines of school and play will still continue. Children are very observant and if they know what is actually going on they will be a source of strength. If you can maintain a positive vibe yourself, children can help keep everyone else going during a period of stress.

Facing unemployment

  • If you are out of work, it is important to register and claim for benefit support as soon as possible, or you could be overwhelmed by accommodation and other living costs. If you are unemployed and looking for work, or working less than 16 hours a week, and are over 18 you could claim Jobseekers Allowance (JSA). If you are too ill to work you may be eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
  • Consider any job you can do, including part time and casual work. These jobs can lead to full-time work, so don’t ignore them.
  • Networking and keeping up-to-date with any information which leads to jobs is essential. Ask friends, relatives and colleagues about work.
  • Offer your time as a volunteer. Volunteer work is rewarding and gives you an opportunity to meet other people in a similar situation and you may learn new skills. It can give you a lot of the mental health benefits that paid work does such as increased confidence and something to get up for each morning.
  • Unemployment can be hard to cope with, but you needn’t struggle on your own. There are services developed to offer advice and support to people in difficult circumstances.

Useful contacts