Want to reduce unemployment? Invest in youth mental health


“Investing in mental health in early life may be an effective way to reduce unemployment.”

-Egan, Daly and Delaney

Work is recognised as one of the most important aspects of a person’s life and one of the most important keys to mental wellbeing. Recent research at the University of Stirling in Scotland suggests that experiencing psychological distress during our teenage years leads to very high rates of joblessness in later life. This is regardless of your socioeconomic background. That being the case, we would do well to invest more effort in ensuring that youth are equipped with all the skills they need to deal with mental health issues as early as possible. This can lead to better mental health all round, and could potentially result in massive savings on our national health bill.

The research findings were published as Adolescent Psychological Distress, Unemployment and the Great Recession, by Mark Egan, Michael Daly and Delaney in the journal Social Science and Medicine. Another interesting observation they made was: “…the impact of high distress was…double the magnitude of having a serious physical health problem.”

Their research found that during the global financial crisis from 2007, young people with high levels of psychological distress were disproportionately more likely to become unemployed than others. So perhaps maintaining better mental health can help people weather recessions?

“One of the best things we can do is to reach out to adolescents and provide them with the skills and insights they need to work through psychological distress and walk the recovery path,” they said.

-Warren Heggarty

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