The Impact of Unemployment on Young People’s Mental Health


A report from the Prince’s Trust has found that more than half of unemployed young people are anxious about life and everyday life situations, with 41% saying their anxiety has stopped them from leaving the house, and 6 out of 10 saying it has stopped them from sleeping well.

Martina Milburn, the chief executive of the Prince’s Trust, said: ‘Thousands of young people feel like prisoners in their own homes. Without the right support, these young people become socially isolated – struggling with day-to-day life and slipping further from the jobs market’.

Unemployment causes anxiety, and anxiety causes unemployment

The situation that this puts young people in only creates a vicious cycle whereby their anxiety, bought on by unemployment and other pressures of life, prevents them from being employable, and this then in turn increases their feelings of anxiety.

Not only do these young people then have no job, and in turn no money, but the public services which should be there as a safety net to help them are not able to provide enough support due to cutbacks. They of course cannot afford private care as they are unemployed (though it should be mentioned that many, if not all, private therapists and counsellors make considerable concessions for those who are unemployed or receiving any form of welfare due to social constraints), and their chronic unemployment becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, compounded by each rejection and what they themselves will (wrongly) perceive as personal failure.

Support and help for anxiety in the unemployed

We need to provide young unemployed people with the support and help they need to prevent them from succumbing to the spectre of chronic unemployment, isolation and anxiety. It is very easy to label unemployed young people as ‘lazy’ and ‘disinterested’. This report suggests that young people care far more about their lives and careers than they are given credit for, it’s about time they are cared for too, rather than demonised.

If you go to any job centre in the country, tireless DWP workers do what they can to try and get young people in to gainful employment. Now if a social worker saw a young, unemployed person walk in with a broken bone, or an open, bleeding wound, they would immediately direct them to medical attention. Why is the same not considered the norm for identifying and helping with mental health issues?

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