Mental health experts are concerned that people who are unemployed amid the COVID-19 pandemic may be experiencing more mental health issues.
Art Goldsmith, a professor of economics at Washinton and Lee University, says that some people who don’t have a financial buffer — particularly minorities or people who have young kids — might become more emotionally distressed by losing their job.
Unemployed people are normally optimistic at first. But after five or six weeks, feelings of hopelessness or anxiety increase.
“That’s when I would say the psychological distress really arise, and poor emotional well-being starts to become a footprint of that bout of unemployment,” Goldsmith siad.
According to Maria Heidkamp, the director of the New Start Career Network at Rutgers University, that’s concerning because the number of people who have been unemployed long-term has ballooned during the pandemic. She says that combing the stress of the health emergency with the pressure of being unemployed compounds an already difficult process.
“Your self-esteem can take a beating if you apply for jobs and get a series of rejections, and you don’t know why. Or maybe you don’t hear anything.” Heidkamp said. “Even pre-pandemic, we know how stressful it is. “
Heidkamp says that unemployed people should break up their job search and related goals into small, manageable steps. She suggests re-doing resumes or building an online presence in small chunks.
She also suggests finding activities that reduce stress during unemployment and searching for part-time work while continuing to look for full-time employment.
New Start Career Network is also partnering with the Mental Health Association of New Jersey to offer online health and wellness workshops.