Depression Is On The Rise With High Unemployment And Career Instability

Careers, Unemployment, Depression, Mental Health, Leadership, Anxiety, Stress, Coronavirus

Sometimes we flounder and just can’t seem to get our heads in the game. Sometimes we lose or—at the very least—we forget how to win. And sometimes we struggle with stress, anxiety, sadness and even depression. This is such a hard time right now for so many people. Coronavirus is ravaging our lives, our economy, our jobs, and our mental health. Clearly, some are feeling it more directly than others, but a lot of us are feeling it. At least 85,000 people (my goodness 85,000) have died in the U.S. alone, and 3 million more new unemployment claims were filed in the last week. CNBC graphed out how the U.S. has lost more than 36 million jobs since March.

All of this has happened in only the last eight weeks, and now we are trying to figure out how to create a new way of being. While we do that, we must also prioritize our mental health and address the need to direct resources for the rising levels of fear, anxiety and depression being felt by many.

Notwithstanding that it’s undoubtedly a harder time for some; it’s still a hard time for many. People are anxious right now, and many have become depressed. Depression is rising in children, in younger and older adults and in the employed and the unemployed. It is on the rise with both blue-collar and white-collar workers, and it is on the rise with low-income and high-income earners and everyone in between.

COVID-19 is taking a huge mental health toll.

The staggering high unemployment and coronavirus recession are factors, but they aren’t the only factors contributing to the heightened mental health struggles and depression—feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, loss of energy, trouble sleeping, etc. Even those who remain employed are struggling. The unemployed are stressed and anxious about their future employment prospects and current and future financial circumstances. While the employed aren’t so sure they stand on solid ground either. They are feeling career instability considering that no one really knows how long the economic recession will last or how deep it will go, and many feel that their own finances and careers may not be so stable over the long-run.

To make things worse, we don’t mingle or touch the way we used to. We don’t spend time together the way we used to. We are far more isolated than we are used to being. All of it is taking a toll. How long will we have to stand six feet from our colleagues, our friends and even some of our family? How long until children can return to school and be with friends? How long before colleges can comfortably hold in-person classes and graduations again? And how long until people—flesh and blood human beings—won’t have to die alone while using FaceTime to say their goodbyes with loved ones?

Finally, what will be the long-term professional, career, workplace, financial and mental health consequences for having gone through this pandemic?

Depression isn’t the only thing on the rise. Drinking is up too.

Healthline reports that drinking is up, and employees are drinking more while working from home. It also shares the results from this study which found that 32% of respondents say they are more likely to drink during work hours while working from home as opposed to when they are in the workplace, and 36% of respondents admit to drinking while on the clock.

There is a huge focus on opening the economy and getting people back to work. There seems to be pressure to get things back to “normal” as fast as possible, but who’s going to tend to the fallout from depression and other emotional and mental health issues? Organizations need to get ready.

Depression is real, and when people return to work—if they have depression—it will come in with them. Who within the organization is going to help employees who struggle with mental health issues or depression? Will depression or an increased reliance on drugs or alcohol simply end after the pandemic does? What happens when employees return to the workplace? Will they simply be able to change this behavior, or might organizational leaders and HR professionals be facing a whole new battle?

The psychological consequences of COVID-19.

Dr. Jonathan Kanter and Katherine Manbeck, University of Washington clinical psychological scientists, share some stark warnings about the present impact and after effects of the COVID-19 crisis. They share that “the United States also needs to be prepared for what may be an epidemic of clinical depression because of COVID-19.” And they go on to state that “this crisis, and our response to it, will have psychological consequences. Individuals, families and communities need to do what they can to prepare for a depression epidemic. Policymakers need to consider – and fund – a large-scale response to this coming crisis.”

COVID-19 will forever be remembered for how it impacted our lives and caused so much death. It will be remembered for the stunning levels of job loss and struggling economy. It will be remembered for stay-at-home orders, masks and remote work. And it will also be remembered for significantly contributing to an increase in depression.

If you find that you are struggling during this time, you are not alone. Process the emotions you feel, and ask for help. Depression is real, and it is treatable. The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.”

If you are suffering, I hope you are encouraged enough to take the first step to get the help you need. If you are an organizational leader or executive, I hope you will move forward with discussing this issue with your team so that you can plan how to best provide services for your employees.

source: forbes