No Health Insurance Is Bad Enough

June 10, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Posted in Health | Leave a comment
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As someone who has several somatic problems to deal with and the medications that go with it I began to wonder about the health of those that are unemployed. Not only because of the lack of funds to go to doctors and clinics, but the stress.  The stress of home life, paying bills, taking care of children, but the stress of the job search, especially the endless interviewing.

According to Live Science unemployment is proving deadly.

“Our big finding is that unemployment does increase the risk of premature mortality by 63 percent,” said Eran Shor, a member of the study’s research team and a sociology professor at McGill University. “There is probably a causal relationship here.”

The new study showed unemployment increases men’s mortality risk more than 40 percent over women’s. The increased risk of premature death is particularly high for those who are unemployed and under the age of 50.”In our society, men are more expected to have a job and bring home a salary,” he said. “When they can’t do that, it is very stressful.”

Mental health also suffers among those who are unemployed. Since I previously worked in the mental health field for six years, this area has my particular attention.
A new Gallup poll finds that a majority of unemployed and underemployed Americans describe themselves as “struggling.” They’re also more likely to report depression and feelings of sadness and worry than their employed counterparts.
The bulk of unemployment research has been pessimistic, including a 1998 study from the University of Wales that found the unemployed in England and Wales were twice as likely to die from suicide as the employed.
People who lost jobs since the recession started in December 2008 were 13 percent more likely to report thoughts of hurting themselves and four times more likely to show signs of mental illness, said Dr. Neal Walker, a clinical psychologist with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
People who are unemployed are also twice as likely to report concern with their mental health or use of alcohol or drugs within the last six months than individuals working full-time.

And what can be done to ease these problems?
Cincinnati psychologist Kenneth Manges said the unemployed need to pay extra attention to their health while they are out of work to avoid picking up bad habits that could cause problems later.
“They have to be mindful of the likelihood that they could fall into an unhealthy lifestyle,” said Manges, noting habits such as a lack of exercise, overeating, smoking and excess drinking could be easy ones to form. “They might get overwhelmed, and use those (things) as tension-relievers, when in fact they are tension-exasperators.”

I’ll have further reading and tips on dealing with the stress of unemployment in my next post.

References and Reading

Bureau of Labor Statistics, May data, published June 3 2011
McGill and Stoney Brook Universities, published in the March 2011 issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine.
SAMSHA studies on employment and mental health
National Jobless Mental Health Study

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