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Thursday, July 06, 2017

Money and Mental Health [i] Impact of Mass Unemployment Events (MUEs)

This post was prompted by an infographic on twitter and an associated report that includes the infographics:

Davies AR, Homolova L, Grey C, Bellis MA (2017). Mass Unemployment Events (MUEs) – Prevention and Response from a Public Health Perspective. Public Health Wales, Cardiff ISBN 978-1-910768-42-6.

The report is very interesting, not just in it demonstrating the conceptual scope and application of Hodges' model, but in the real-world examples of people who have experienced this socioeconomic phenomena which impacts so heavily on the individual, spouses (partners) and communities. In addition the research is global across countries and industries. It is sobering to reflect also on the dynamic that is the workforce. Paradoxically, at present UK employment is at a high:

"The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 74.8%, the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971." (ONS June 2017).
The report does not mention the 'gig economy', but the rise of 'zero hours' a feature of the new economy is found on page 48. With demographers, forward thinking policy makers and media seers predicting the future of work as the robots not only find their feet, but walk, run and jump - you wonder where we are headed. Children will need to be educated in such a way that they are prepared to retrain, possibly several times in their working lives. Other avenues to ease the human pain are a basic universal income, and a reduced working week. You do wonder if another hidden and subtle MUE is underway? It is not so much massive, as yet, but it is happening in not so slow - slow motion ...?

What follows is drawn from section 4.

humanistic ----------------------------------------- mechanistic
group - population

Effect on mental health and well-being

loss of self-esteem, increased stress,
anxiety, changes to perceived control,
shame and loss of status, withdrawal
experiencing a grieving process

insomnia, depression, self-harm,
attempted and completed suicide


financial strain

 Effect on pre-existing poor health behaviours - 

helplessness, hopelessness

loss of individual and collective* identity

physical health

reduced freedom from disability


reduced life expectancy

stroke, myocardial infarction
weight gain
relapse to smoking ... again

- such as, increased alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, illegal and prescription drug misuse, and being overweight

"job for life"
hidden morbidity
spousal mental health

reduced household income

change in family dynamics


increased conflict and domestic violence, increased unplanned pregnancy, and reduced infant growth - child educational attainment

Community impact: loss of cohesion and identity*

the already unemployed

social inequalities

women seeking community mental health support as their (male) partners will not seek help

having to work away from home

intergenerational impact

culture of worklessness, unemployability

"job for life of a family"

hidden unemployed

accumulation of debt

jobs offered not local

labour market

housing market - affordability
commuting costs

reliance on food banks

 increased expenditure on antidepressants 
and related drugs

financial hardship

increased hospitalisation, out-patient attendance

Community impact: labour market and economy

Loss of industries
youth move away - 

no workers for new initiatives/industries

loss to local economy of MUE

reliance on welfare benefits

A future post will conduct a similar treatment of a publication by The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute.