Careers And Mental Health:
Link Between Mental Health And Employment
Unemployed persons are twice as likely to have serious mental health problems requiring
psychological or medical treatment compared to employed people. This is the finding of a study
published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior.
At the same time, a poll found that nearly 30 percent of Americans say they lose sleep at least a
few nights a week because of worry about job loss and money worries.
Anxiety, panic attacks and depression cause insomnia, which in turn affects the ability to cope
with the challenges of life changes such as those brought on by the recession.
Medical director Dr. Carol Ash says, "Sleep is linked to mental processing and health. When
you're not sleeping well it impairs your thinking, learning, reaction time and coping skills."
In Britain, the Samaritans, a charity organization that offers round-the-clock emotional support,
warn that as the economic crisis worsens, the country could see an increase in suicide rates.
What Is Mental Health?
According to the World Health Organization, the definition of mental health is not merely the
absence of disease, but "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being".
Mental health is "a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own
potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is
able to make a contribution to her or his community".
One woman wrote in The Age about her battle with depression.
There are two things in the article that stood out that I want to share with you, because I believe
they are helpful and important:
The Importance of Having a Mental Wellness Plan
Instead of relying on doctors and medication, there are things you can and should do
daily to protect your mental well-being and prevent mental illness.
Fresh air. Sunshine. Taking a lunch break. Keeping in touch with friends and family.
Eating well. Being around children.
The Secret of How to be Happy
The writer's counsellor offered her this prescription for happiness that I want to share
o Something or someone to love
o Something to do that you are passionate about
o Something to look forward to
The advice brings to mind a famous saying of the English statesman Joseph Addison:
"Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to
love, and something to hope for."
Love. Passion. Dreams. Goals.
Isn't it incredible how we often spend so much of our energies striving (and still feeling
unfulfilled) when happiness is found in the simple, essential things?
The Power Of A Negative Thought
It is not only the unemployed whose mental health is at risk.
People who are not in an immediate crisis may also feel insecure and vulnerable. Fear of losing
jobs and financial pressures from plummeting property values and dwindling retirement funds
can adversely affect mental and emotional health and increase suicide risk.
As Dr. Lynn Bufka of the American Psychological Association explains -
"Someone has a good job but thinks they may lose the job or have their hours cut.
They then think about how they will pay the mortgage or rent.
So within 60 seconds, they have gone from having a stable life to being homeless, in their mind."
When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.
Mental Health Help
We are fortunate to live in a time when so much more is understood about mental illness and its
causes, symptoms and treatment.
There is a plethora of mental health resources, information and support available from your
national mental health association as well as mental health professionals such as counselors,
psychiatrists and psychologists.
If someone you care about is showing signs of stress, anxiety or depression and is not coping as
well as they normally do, please let them know that they can and should get help.
BeyondBlue, a national not-for-profit organization working with depression, anxiety and
substance misuse disorders
Australian Psychological Society
Lifeline (24-hour mental health hotline)
The Australian Counselling Association
Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association)
SAMHSA - National Mental Health Information Center
Mind (National Association for Mental Health)
Top Tips To Improve Mental Health
Challenge Limiting Beliefs
Clinical psychologist Mary Gresham says many people mistakenly believe that money
stress can only be reduced by money itself.
The trouble with this belief is that the more you think about money and how not to lose it,
the more anxious and less effective you become at solving your problems.
Different people have different ways of describing this connection between your thinking
and your circumstances.
As a man thinketh, so is he.
If you think about disaster, you will get it.
Brood about death and you hasten your demise.
Think positively and masterfully, with confidence and faith,
and life becomes more secure, more fraught with action,
richer in achievement and experience.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Example: Challenge Your Money Attitudes
Watch how Byron Katie challenges her audience to question their beliefs about money.
Switch Your Focus
The Corporation for National & Community Service has found that volunteering leads to
greater life satisfaction, lower rates of depression and better physical and mental health.
Why is this so?
Humans are meant to live in meaningful connection with one another. When we help
others, we feel good about ourselves. When we think about how to make someone else's
life better, we take our focus off our own troubles. We may find, as we often do, that
someone else is having a much worse time and that we wouldn't trade places with them
for anything in the world. We gain a new perspective on our situation. Gratitude for what
we have. Renewed strength to cope. Inner resources we didn't know existed because they
hadn't been put to the test before now.
So if you have never tried it, give some time, money or effort to make someone else's life
better. You and they will be happier for it.
Avoid Negative Situations And People
There are some people you and I would do better avoiding.
You know the ones. They have nothing good to say, are constantly whining about
themselves, complaining about everyone and everything and predicting that things are
going to get much worse.
If you are already in a psychologically vulnerable state, stay away from the pessimists
and practitioners of negative thinking. They can drag you down with them and your
emotional and mental health may suffer.
Recession Or Depression
If money worries are threatening your quality of life, fight back with constructive action.
What one thing can you change today that is likely to improve your financial situation?
Perhaps you could look at alternative ways to make money. There are opportunities in
part time work from home, and ways to make money online.
Get the family together to re-look the household budget and see how you can reduce
discretionary spending to a manageable level while still making room to have fun times
Family decision making is a great way to get the kids involved, to teach the importance
of teamwork, and to encourage resilience through positive action.
Our family loves playing board games together, and Monopoly is one of our favourites.
Recently, we bought Rich Dad Cashflow for Kids.
Rich Dad Cashflow for Kids is like Monopoly, except that instead of buying property,
you buy stocks and build businesses.
My husband and I want to teach our kids - while they are at their most teachable - the
basics about money management and the difference between assets and doodads. My 9-
year-old now understands that if she cajoles Mummy and Daddy into buying her things
from the shops just because she wants them or her friends have them, we are spending
our money on things that may not grow in value, and losing the opportunity to make that
Exercise and Mental Health
According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of
disability. WHO predicts that by 2020, depression will be the 2nd leading contributor to
the global burden of disease for all ages and sexes.
Research shows that exercise is not only a great stress reliever, it also equips you to cope
with future stress and to fight depression.
When you exercise, your brain produces endorphins and other neurotransmitters which
act as anti-depressants and enhance your sense of wellbeing.
If you don't like exercising on your own, join a group class or grab a partner and go for a
walk around your neighbourhood. Just getting out in the fresh air can do wonders for
your mind and body.
Spirituality and Mental Health
Being spiritual is not the same as being religious. Spirituality is more personal, whereas
religion is community-based and requires that you abide by the practices and beliefs of
your religious community.
You can be deeply concerned about matters of the spirit, the meaning and purpose of life,
your place in the universe and how you connect with other living things, without
necessarily practising or believing in a religion.
What are the benefits of spirituality?
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists website, patients who receive good
quality spiritual care report improved self-esteem and confidence, faster and easier
recovery, improved relationships and a new sense of meaning.
If you are spiritually inclined, it is important that you nurture your spiritual strength.
Read. Reflect. Meditate. Constantly challenge yourself to live consciously. Learn from
individuals whose lives and attitudes inspire you. Connect with like-minded others.
Having strong inner resources will help you cope better with crises and changes and
bounce back from disaster. If you pay little attention to your inner world, you may find
that when trials come and your external supports are taken from you, the strength within
may not be enough to prop you up.