While some studies tout the health benefits of the recession—fewer illnesses reported and deaths—others are saying the economic downturn is taking a toll on Americans' mental health. A survey conducted for Mental Health America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Depression is Real Coalition shows that unemployed individuals are four times as likely than those with jobs to report symptoms coinciding with severe mental illness. Thirteen percent said that they've considered harming themselves. With unemployment rates reaching near 10 percent, this is a worthy cause for concern.
But unemployed Americans aren't the only ones feeling the mental effects of the recession. According to the September 2009 survey of 1,002 adults nationwide, full-time workers experiencing forced changes (reduced hours or pay) are twice as likely to report symptoms of mental illness. They're also five times more likely to admit feelings of hopelessness most or all of the time. Of the survey participants, nearly 20 percent reported a forced change in their work during the last year.
Michael J. Fitzpatrick, M.S.W., executive director of the National Alliance on Mental illness urges Americans—employed or not—to seek help to overcome medical illnesses.