By Sarah Bonato, Reference/Research Librarian, CAMH Library
From 2003 to 2013, 5.8% of employees aged 18 to 64 in Canada were laid-off,1 and the loss of a work is a source of both emotional stress and physical2. Joblessness may result in individual, family and community wide problems3 and is among one of life’s top 10 traumatic experiences4.
See below for a selection of research on the mental health impacts of layoffs and guidance on how to respond to the challenge.
Helping Employees After Layoffs: Methods to Motivate Employees to Overcome Survivor’s Guilt (2014)
From the National Career Development Association
- This research brief focuses on providing help to those who kept their job after workplace layoffs. While not as stressful as experiencing a layoffs, layoff survivors may have their own unique symptoms. Info on understanding the experience of layoff survivors and how to assist them is included.
Access at https://www.ncda.org/aws/NCDA/page_template/show_detail/88749?model_name=news_article
Interventions to Reduce the Impact of Unemployment and Economic Hardship on MentalHealth in the General Population: A systematic review,, by Moore, T. H. M., Kapur, N., Hawton, K., Richards, A., Metcalfe, C., & Gunnell, D. (2017)
From Psychological Medicine, 47(6), 1062-1084.
- This article summarizes the research from RCTs on interventions for reducing the effects of unemployment and debt on mental health. Interventions assessed include “job clubs”, CBT based interventions, telephone support and expressive writing. Although the authors note that more high quality RCTs are needed, the evidence does support that the “job club” intervention can reduce depressive symptoms for up to two years.
Access at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5426338/
Unemployment and Mental Health (2009)
From the Institute for Work and Health
- This IWH Issue Briefing provides an overview of the research findings on how unemployment adversely effects mental health. The research evidence on income insecurity, stigma, and the loss of social networks is summarized, along with suggested policy implications. An especially helpful source for understanding how a cause-and-effect relationship may work in both directions—job loss may result in a poor mental health state, and mental health issues may also make it challenging to obtain and/or stay employed.
Access at https://www.iwh.on.ca/summaries/issue-briefing/unemployment-and-mental-health
1 Ci, W., Morissette, R., & Schellenberg, G. Economic Insights Hires and Layoffs in Canada’s Economic Regions: Experimental Estimates, 2003 to 2013.
2 Holmes, T. H., & Rahe, R. H. (1967). The social readjustment rating scale. Journal of psychosomatic research, 11(2), 213-218.
3 McKee-Ryan, F., Song, Z., Wanberg, C. R., & Kinicki, A. J. (2005). Psychological and physical well-being during unemployment: a meta-analytic study. Journal of applied psychology, 90(1), 53.
4 Nichols, A., Mitchell, J., & Lindner, S. (2013). Consequences of long-term unemployment. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.
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