Long-term unemployment affects mental health of job seekers

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Research has found that the longer an individual is out of work, the more their mental health deteriorates.

This deterioration then becomes a barrier to that individual’s employability, and so the cycle continues unless that person gains the support they need.

Our Mental Health Consultants share their advice on preventing this detrimental cycle for job seekers, friends, family, and employers.

Job seekers

When stress begins to affect your daily life, get in touch with people who can help you. Talk to friends and family.

If you’re experiencing difficulties, reach out to psychologists, counsellors or call a helpline.

Be sociable. Connect with friends, family and former colleagues regularly and often. They may be able to give you the inside scoop on the hidden job market.

Accept that searching for the right job takes time.

Georgia Watson, Mental Health Consultant for EPIC Assist Nambour said that the job seekers are under too much pressure to adhere to compliance checklists, rather than receiving the support they need.

“I feel strongly that the current focus on job seeker compliance is very difficult for job seekers – they are living on a meagre wage, struggling to afford basic living expenses, and not supported to feel good about themselves in the process,” she said.


Be flexible. Provide more opportunities for job seekers by considering job share or flexible work arrangements.

Increase your competitive advantage. Don’t miss out on hiring the person with the talent, skills and experience you need.

Part-time work can be the ideal work situation for a person with a mental health difficulty.

It allows them to attend appointments and look after themselves, so they can be their best self every day.

Train staff in Mental Health First Aid so that symptoms of mental health problems can be identified early and crises can be resolved before they begin.

Training in mental health will also support staff who have not yet disclosed their condition.

Service Providers

Make sure education and training on mental health is available to all staff.

It is important that someone with mental health difficulties feels that their capabilities and goals are fully understood by those who support them in searching for jobs.

For Service Providers to fulfil their role, they must be able to meet the mental health needs of their participants and job seekers.

Georgia said that many job seekers feel pushed into applying for positions that are inappropriate.

“Take the time to understand what the job seeker’s circumstances are.  People describe all sorts of situations where their job provider calls them lazy, expects them to accept jobs which are not in line with their goals or their health needs. Some interview them in open spaces so all the other people present in the room can see the person crying,” Georgia said.

EPIC Mental Health Consultants

Our Mental Health Consultants work with our Consultants to support our job seekers with mental health difficulties. They advise individuals how to access the support they need, from GP’s to exercise classes, and provide training and support to employers.