What Are The Consequences Of Employment For

What Are The Consequences Of Employment For Mental Health Essay Research Paper The research that has been carried out on the consequences of unemployment is extensive Much of this research is related to the s and s when unemployment reac.

Mental Health Essay, Research Paper

???? The research

that has been carried out on the consequences of unemployment is

extensive.? Much of this research is

related to the 1930?s and 1980?s when unemployment reached its peak in the

west.?? I aim with this research to

highlight the consequences of unemployment on a person?s mental health.? I would like to analyse the role that work

plays within our lives, as if we are to assess the human consequences of

unemployment, we need to understand the human consequences of employment

also.?? If employment has lost its

meaning for many through alienatation and exploitation in the workplace, then

surely unemployment would become merely an economic issue. ???? Work in a modern society serves many functions in that it

provides outcomes that have the potential to satisfy a number of personal

needs.?? Initially, work is a source of

income and when we look at the classical concept of the economic man, it suggests

that income is the only reason for work and that humans are only motivated to

achieve a better material status1.? As we know this Tayloristc view isn?t true,

otherwise we could assume that people would discontinue working once their

material needs were satisfied.?? The

fact that this alone is true suggests that work plays a more important

function.?? Neff (1968) (cited in1.) states that those who were

vocationally disabled wanted to work to release themselves from boredom and

inactivity therefore work as a form of activity is very important.? Work requires the expenditure of energy in

the form of physical or mental activity.??

In a study carried out by Morse and Weiss (1955) (cited in1) on the reasons for working, 32 per cent

indicated that work kept them occupied and interested, 10 per cent that work

kept them healthy, four per cent that without work they would be bored and

another 10 per cent said they wouldn?t know what to do with all their

time.? It would appear that work is the

main source of activity for humans and that people prefer to be active than

idle. ???? Work acts as a structure to time.? It determines what time people get up, how long they stay away

from the home and what they will spend their time doing.?? Over a longer period, our time is

structured by holidays, weekends and so on, which provides many timetable for

life.?? Loss of work can be said to lead

to ?de-orientation.?? Jahoda?s study in

the 1930?s of an Austrian village called Marienthal, is a perfect example of

how workers became ?de-orientated? with the closure of the only factory in the

village.? The men who had become

unemployed were asked at the end of each day to describe their activities.? They were unable to give any good

description and their days were scheduled by biologically incisive points, such

as eating. ??Other tasks, which could

only have consumed a few minutes, were described as taking up the whole

morning.?? While these men had lots of

free time their women complained that they were never punctual at mealtimes,

highlighting the relevance of a habitual time structure through work (cited in 2.)???? Work is a sourse of creativity and mastery. Hendrick (1943

cited in 1.) suggests that the pleasure gained from

work is due to the fact we have mastery over the ability to change our

environment.? He created a work

principle that states ??primary pleasure is sought by the efficient use of the

nervous system for the performance of well-integrated ego functions which

enable the individual to control or alter his or her environment.?(p.41.)?? Neff (1968 cited in 1.) believes that in some cases people attempt

to satisfy themselves through their work and the needs to be creative.?? Creativity is a form of stimulation

releaving one from boredom and attaining a sense of achievement.? Work creates meaningfulness and without it a

person can suffer from feeling a loss of purpose.???? Social interaction is another aspect of work that is vital to

a person.?? It was discovered by Herberg

et al (1957 cited in? 1.) when reviewing 15 studies, which

involved 28,000 workers, that a major sourse of satisfaction was the social

aspect of the job to the extent it was the most frequently meantioned.???? Finally, work gives people a sourse of identity.? Many people introduce themselves using the

title of their occupation. This is an indicator of a person?s status and is

perhaps is used due to the loss of many traditional forms of identification,

such as religion.?? Unemployment

undermines the individual?s status and in-turn damages a person?s self-esteem

by the fact they become dependent on others or the state for support.? This can often lead to a feeling of failure.???? It appears that work provides a great deal more than just

satisfaction but infact fulfils many deeper needs of our human nature.? The loss of work therfore must have some

form of effect on a person?s mental health. Through the ?Psycho-social

Transition? I aim to show this.???? The Psycho-social Transition is a framework designed to

describe the various stages that people experience during unemployment.?? While it is only a general framework it

attempts to provide a basis from which we can gain a greater understanding of

an individual?s behaviour and psychological state.?? This framework was designed by Hopson and Adams (1976 cited in 1. )?

They describe the experience of unemployment in seven stages (see

Appendix I.)? The first stage is called immobilization.? This is when a person becomes overwhelmed by

an event, in this case unemployment, and is unable to reason or understand what

is happening.? It could be said they are

in a state of shock as they are unable to deal with reality. Hill and Briar

(1977 cited in1) found that on becoming

unemployed some people took a holiday, maybe due to the opportunity to be able

to, but Nutman and Hayes suggests this behaviour is just an attempt to avoid

change and retain self-image, afterall taking a holiday is an act carried out

by most employed people.? It could also

be seen as an effort to escape.???? The second stage of minimization

is where a level of reality is maintained through the pretence that the event

never happened and in turn minimizing the need for change. People tried to

retain their self-image, delaying the acceptance of their situation by

prolonging claiming benefits.? An unemployed

person stated ?I resent the fact that I had to sign on the dole, or become in

me own opinion, a second class citizen.?4. ?The fact that a person delays claiming the

dole is a sign they are avoiding the emminent alteration in their life and they

believe that their situation is only temporary. Jahoda states that even with

redundancy payments or sufficient unemployment allowances, the unemployed do

not enjoy their ?leisure? time and still feel disheartened and of low

self-esteem; as though they are on the scrap heap 3.(p.189.) At this stage of optimism, people still have a strong

belief in finding new employment to the extent that some people create a daily

routine through the process of job seeking and carrying out jobs around the

home.? This was one way in which people

were found to maintain his or her image of a worker afterall ?Work provides for

most people the pattern in which their lives are lived.?5 As more and more rejections are received

the person becomes disheartened and moves from optamism to pessimism. When an individual fails to achieve his or her

expectations they continue to try and find an equilibrium in order to cope,

which involves a change in assumptions and expectations.? This involves cognitive redefinition of

him-herself, the situation and future development of new personal constructs.

Eventually, they become willing to accept change but don?t know how to make

these changes.? A sense of uselessness

and loss of purpose builds up as they fall into depression. People have to accept the reality of their situation

and let go realeasing ??themselves

from the assumptions of their pre-transitional situation.? 1. (p.11.) It is only after this stage

that a person is able to move on and test

out their new ?life space.?? They

attempt to develop new ways of dealing with their present reality and do this

by changing their attitudes and behaviours.?

It is an attempt to create a new framework of understanding and

reference within which one can begin to make sense of the situation of

unemployment.? If a person is successful

is the search for meaning through

their new framework, it can be internalised

as the new basis of their assumptive world which has been affected by the

transition.???? The Psyso-social transition can be said to be limited since it

has not been rigorously tested and Hopson and Adams (1976) recognise its

limitations as they say, ?it is not systematic enough to be called a model, and

not ambitious enough to be called a theory.? 1.(

p.12.) Jahoda also states this and believes it is just the way it must be.3.???? Harrison (1976 cited in 1.)

looked more at the effects of long term unemployment and suggests that there

are only four stages within the transitional cycle; shock, optimism, pessimism

and fatalism.? It is similar to that of

Hopson and Adams in the fact that they both show an increase in self-esteem as

a person moves into the later stages of transition.? Long term adjustment tends to be defined by the acceptance of the

situation and move away from the disabling, depressive states but while their

self-esteem lifts it still remains lower than that of the employed.? Seligman (1975 cited in 1) also looked at the psychological

reactions of the later stages of unemployment and devised the theory of

?Helplessness.?? He believes that

individuals when placed in an uncontrollable situation learn that reacting is

futile and do not respond to take action.?

This interference with the learnt action of response to achieve your

goals produces cognitive distortions leading to anxiety and in turn depression.? For some it can lead to ?learned

helplessness? where even the smallest of obstacles become too difficult to get

past.???? I would now like to discuss the work of Jahoda and others to

continue to strengthen the argument that unemployment has serious negetive

effects on an individuals mental health.?

At the height of the depression in the 1930?s, unemployment in most

industrial countries was well over 20 per cent of the labour force. 50-60

percent were unemployed in the coal-mining communities of South Wales, 2/3 of

people were permanently unemployed in Jarrow, and those miners over the age of

45 were resigned to never finding work again 6..? This highlights the drastic situation that

many people were faced with.? If we turn

to Maslow (1958 cited in 6.) we can

see through his hierarchy of needs the effect unemployment can have on an

invidual.? He stated that our basic

needs require shelter and food to be fulfilled but even this was difficult in

the povery of unemployment in the 1930?s preventing people from moving towards

their higher order needs.???? In 1929, the only factory in the Austrian village of

Marienthal closed down, leading to mass unemployment.? An investigation was undertaken by Jahoda to see what effect it

had2.. People initially reacted with shock to

the onset of unemployment.? Women

panicked about household management.?

Some fell into debt even though they managed to live on a reduced income

later and many voluntary organisations and clubs closed their doors.? After the initial shock, there was actually

a slight recovery when they began to manage, but as economic hardship continued

to worsen this adaption became threatened 6.. ??? Jahoda states that modern industrialised societies shape the

experience of time through public institutions such as the school system, which

from the early days of childhood sets us to the rhythm of work.? It impresses the value of punctuality and

the need to fill the day with activity, which employment offers through a fixed

time schedule. When this is removed people feel a great psychological burden

upon themselves. Even with all this spare time, the men in Marienthal were

still unpunctual, while the effect on women was far lower as they consumed

their days with household tasks.? For

unemployed men their working day was reduced to 13 ½? hours since sleeping kept them warm, made them forget their

problems and saved their clothes.? They

idled away their time and similar to the Bakke study in Greenwich 6. they would spend a great deal of time

on the streets just waiting for something to happen and participating in very

little conversation.? We can conclude

from this then that time structure is a vital aspect of life. ???? One of the major differences in the 1980?s was the improvement

in material circumstances but another dramatic change was that of the education

levels of the population as a whole.?

The addition of two extra compulsory years at school increased the

knowledge of the population and was found to heighten the aspirations of

individuals6..? It could be argued then that unemployment

could be more difficult to cope with now as it frustrates high hopes.? During the 1930?s the television had not

been heard of either.? Social scientists

have investigated the impact of this introduction of the television into our

homes.? Advertising and the display of a

comfortable middle class life mediated through the television, is far more

powerful than the written or spoken word and affect the material aspirations of

people far more6.? While they are only experiencing relative

deprivation, the experience of trying to ?keep up appearances? is

psychologically distressing.? Todays

work is often said to be a source of achieving material wealth, especially as

consumerism often defines our status and is no longer based around the

Protestant Work Ethic that defined work as morally good and was the creator of

moral norms.? ????? I now want to look at research carried out on different

groups within the unemployed especially youth unemployment.? Banks and Jackson (1982 cited in 7.) carried out one of the

best-known studies of young people.? The

study was only of those who had two O?Levels or the equivalent.? The study questioned 647 students who had

just left school in 1978 and 1096 students just before they left school in 1979

and followed both groups up with a yearly interview followed by another after

18 months.? The results showed that

those that were still at school had the most dramatic score in the health

questionaire (form 11.36 to 13.55) but a significant decrease in those who

gained jobs (10.61 ? 8.41.)? Warr7.suggests that

this could be linked to the anxiety felt about entering the labour market at a

time where there was increasing unemployment and deepening recession. Jahoda

believed this age group was most affected by unemployement (16-19yrs) which is

worrying since these are the people whose skills, motivation and outlook on

life shape the future of business.?

While school and the apirations of their families may have instilled in

them many hopes and dreams, when faced with the situation of unemployment all

their ambitions are often lost.? Dan van

der Vat (1981 cited in 6.)

discovered through conversations with young people that many had lost their

will to work and their abiltiy to live within an adult society.? Based on a survey of 1000 interviews with

young people who had visited the London Central YMCA, one in four of unemployed

16-25 year olds had contmplated suicide 8..? Jahoda believes they are the most affect due

to the loss of time structure leading to boredom and not knowing what to do

with so much time.? Unemployed women on

the other hand are probably the least affected because they structure their

time through domestic chores but what effects them most is the loss of social

contacts.? For unemployed managers the

loss of status is often the most pressing issue.? As we can see the process of unemployment is not experienced the

same by everyone.??? While unemployment may be damaging to our mental health, it is

often argued that poor employment situations can also detiorate our mental

health and I would like to explore which of these is better, employment or

unemployment? Appendix 1 is an example of just how relevant this issue is as it

shows that people who are overworked becoming mentally ill. Kornhauser (1965

cited in 3.) in his study of mental

health within the workforce discovered that mental health varied with the level

of skill. Those with the lowest skills were the most mentally ill.? In most surveys about five per cent of

people report an improvement in their mental health because they have escaped

from miserable job and others because they have found positive aspects of

unemployment 10. A survey carried out by

Jackson and Warr (cited in 9) on 954

men who had been unemployed on average for five months, found that while the

largest percentage of people experienced pooer mental health, eight per cent

actually said that their mental health had improved since becoming unemployed.

A study by Colledge and Bartholomew in 1968 looking at long term unemployment

found just under 2/3 of men described their health as excellent or good and

only nine per cent stated their health was poor due to unemployment (cited in 9.)???? On the other hand, Brenner (1976 cited in 3) saw that when unemployment rates were

high so were social apathy indicators and stated that the negetive consequences

of unemployment were far worse than those of employment.? While work can be argued as alienating and

exploitative, a Dutch study by Hofstede (1979 cited in 3) concluded that the humanization of work

is only demanded by the intectual elite and not by alienated workers therfore

work is not necessarily as threatening to mental health as some may claim.?? Afterall, work fulfils the Latent Functions

defined by Jahoda 3 of

imposing a time structure, the sharing of experiences and contact with others

outside of the immediate family, employment enables people to link themselves

to individual goals and purposes that transend their own, it structures their

personal identity and status and finally, it enforces activity.? These Latent Functions echo strongly back to

the ideas I put forward earlier about the functions of work.? Even Freud (1930 cited in 9.) stated work was a person?s strongest

tie to reality and therefore it would seem, in general, that unemployment

affects mental health far more than employment ever has.???? Over the past century there has been a

numrous studies undertaken to try and discover the effects of unemployment but

there is no real theory to bind the research and knowledge regarding this area

together, and so there is often quite a gap between the theory and the

research.? While unemployment rates rise

in industrialised countries with the international division of labour leading

to fewer jobs in the western world, especially when to survive economically

organisations replace jobs with technology, it is important that we look at the

consequences that such increases in unemployment could have.? While work may have become more alienating

and exploitative, the consequences on mental health? for the unemployed is still as drastic as it ever was and far

worse then than being within employment.?

Unemployment today doesn?t necessarily lead to deep poverty like it did

in the depression of the 1930?s but the psychological consequences remain the

same if not worse by the pressure placed on people within a consumer society

with higher standards of living.? While

the working environment of the 1930?s was much different to that of the 1980?s

and? today, I hope, I have highlighted

the severe negetive consequences of unemployment on mental health through the

use of theory and knowledge to gain a greater understanding of the experience

of life without work. Endnotes1. Haye J & Nutman P ? Understanding the Unemployed ? The

Psychological Effects of Unemployment?? ?????? (1981) Tavistock. 2. Fryer D & Ullah P ? Unemployed People: Social and Psycholgical

Perspectives (1987) Open University ??????

Press. 3.? Jahoda M – Work, Employment,

and Unemployment (1981) American Psycholgist, 36, 2. 4. Tv Eye ? 5th June 1980 ? Thames Television cited in 1 5. Pilgrim Trust 1968 cited in 1. (p.23.) 6. Jahoda M ? Employment and Unemployment (1982) Camberidge University

Press7.? Warr P ? Comparison between

employed and unemployed: twelve questions about unemployment and health in

Roberts, R, Finnegan, R, Gaille, D eds. ? New approaches to economic life

(1985) Manchester University Press. 8. Balloch S, Hume C, Jones B, and Westland P ? Caring for unemployed

people (1985) Bedford Sqaure Press.9. Smith R ? Unemployment and Health (1987) Oxford University Press10. Fryer D & Payne R ? Proactive behaviour in unemployment;

findings and implications. Leisure studies???

1984; 3: 273-95 cited in 9. ? BibliographyBalloch S, Hume C, Jones B, and Westland P ? Caring for Unemployed

People (1985) ?????????????????????????

Bedford Sqaure Press.Dodd V ??Overworked Britons feel ill and too tired for love.?The

Guardian 5 March 2001 Haye J & Nutman P ? Understanding the Unemployed ? The

Psychological Effects of????? ?????????????????????????????? Unemployment (1981)

Tavistock.Fryer D & Ullah P ? Unemployed People: Social and Psycholgical

Perspectives (1987) ???????????????????? ?????Open University Press.Jahoda M – Work, Employment, and Unemployment (1981) American

Psycholgist, 36, 2.Jahoda M ? Employment and Unemployment (1982) Camberidge

University PressSmith R ? Unemployment and Health (1987) Oxford University PressWarr P ? Comparison between employed and unemployed: twelve questions

about ??????????????? unemployment and

health in Roberts, R, Finnegan, R, Gaille, D eds. ? ??????????????? New

Approaches to Economic Life (1985) Manchester University Press.

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