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Experts: Prolonged unemployment putting strain on mental health

Experts: Prolonged unemployment putting strain on mental healthPsychiatrist Dr. Daniel Merrill is seeing it more and more in the tough economy:

Someone ends up in the hospital suffering from depression or anxiety brought on by the stress of unemployment. Sometimes the condition leads to a substance-abuse problem or suicide attempt.

At the same time, Merrill said, people facing such problems have less access to mental and behavioral health services due to state cuts and to help from nonprofits that rely on donations.

“It’s kind of a double whammy,” said Merrill, Mercy Gilbert Medical Center’s medical director in the department of psychiatry. “Not only are we having an increase in need for mental health services, but resources are being curtailed.”

Merrill and other health professionals say stress-related problems have become increasingly common as widespread unemployment has taken a toll on mental health.

Unemployed people are twice as likely to experience psychological problems including depression, anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms and poor self-esteem, according to a report by the American Psychological Association.

Stress from unemployment also can contribute to physical problems such as elevated heart rate and high blood pressure, said Dr. Janie Goodall, a psychologist with Banner Psychological Services.

“That’s just in the short term,” she said.

Prolonged stress, such as that caused by long-term unemployment, can be even worse, contributing to cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, respiratory and immune function problems, sleep disorders and chronic pain, Goodall said.

Arizona’s unemployment rate was 8.3 percent in August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Stress and mental health problems resulting from unemployment can increase demand for services, according to Dr. Babak Nayeri, an executive consultant for the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“It does affect the society at large,” Nayeri said. “Any time we have an individual or individuals whose health and well-being is suffering, that adds a burden on our health system.”

High unemployment also means a reduced tax base, which leads to depleted resources. Goodall said cuts to Medicaid, mental health services and behavioral health services, along with less funding for nonprofit, community-based services have stretched the safety net to its breaking point.

“You have the perfect storm right now with the national and state economic problems,” she said.

But there are still resources available for those in need, including community health centers, county behavioral health services and programs offered through the Arizona Department of Health Services. Clinics that charge on a sliding scale based on income, community health centers and training programs for medical professionals are options for low-cost care.

County and state workforce-development programs can also provide job seekers an outlet to channel their stress into focusing on the job search process.

Justin Jones, a training and assessment supervisor for Maricopa Workforce Connections, said the organization focuses on teaching job seekers how to overcome fear of the job search.

“Obviously stress is going to be a part of every job search, but in this economy it seems to be doubled or tripled for people,” Jones said.

Moriah Blomfield, a business services representative at Arizona Department of Economic Security, said there are ways for job seekers to stress.

“It’s really important for the person who is unemployed to take good care of themselves and get sleep, eat right and exercise, to take time to themselves and to set daily goals as well as job search goals for themselves,” she said.

After losing her job of six years as a fraud analyst with Bank of America, Cesiley Hudson had to deal with the stress of supporting her family, meeting her mortgage and keeping up with bill collectors.

“I’m always nervous, always nervous every day about the uncertainty,” Hudson said.

Instead of dwelling on the stress, Hudson said she channeled her energy into developing her small business, a catering company called Cesnik’s Flavors. It turned out, for Hudson, that losing her job allowed her the opportunity to focus on her dream.

“I see it as a blessing, if you could ever say being unemployed is a blessing,” she said. “It pushed me to do something that I might never have done if I had a job.”


  1. These very drastic change times in many aspects will require the workforce office to develop or install new pyschollogy short programs for the unnemployed people for two purposes:

    Know how to deal with depression and all bad syntoms related.

    Explain the people that had a higher salary, that maybe, his next salary will be a lot smaller than before, that , or accept a minor scale job in order to survive, that, believme, cause also mental problems, and delay the people to fill the lower rank or pay jobs available.
    Excuse my orthograpy errors, I am stressed.

  2. Yes this is all true. And what else hurts is when you work for a state agency for instance Teaxas A&M university called me while i was in a job interview in april told me they was going to start me at 10.50 an hour and when i got my first check it was for 8.50 an hour and then they said when you go full time i would get the raise. Three months latter they hired a young minded woman with know cares about anything but her self and was writeing every one up for minieal items.
    i questioned her about it, but she had an attitude problem to the max and it did not help that i was older and new more about my job then she cared to say!I am 50 years old and i worked circles around their whole team and the Plant manager John Mills knew this. So i filled out a grievance and protested and told them about how i was treated and not paid correctly. They blew me off, more or less and stuck up for the very people that were committing the crimes of lazyness and wastefull spending.
    “WOW” I was a new home building supervisor for 7 years i closed 107 homes in 7 months i was in the military for 12 years retired at E-6 and up for E-7 I was a lead man for a shopping mall king for 5 years tottal i have been in the residential and commercial building field for 30+ years and i was treated like a kid rite out of highschool!!! talk about people loseing their mind yep that was me i could not understand it! and these are the people teaching our youth of tommoro!!! I lost my job for working hard and the ones who showed up late, clowned around hid and over all just wasted funds still have a job!!! So then i go back out in the unemployment world again and get a job with TuFF Shed Inc as production supervisor, Sales is slacking off and instead of fireing the sales people who werent doing their job. The regional manager shots the shop down and gives us our last paycheck all in the same day! Know warning what so ever now between these to i have been put in to a hardship, And its extra hard for me to find work because i have a felony caused by a company who owed me n15000,00 in escrow that they refused to pay! so i put a stop payment on a check for 5,000.00 in material that they used and when we went to court the judge that was their friend convienitly threw my evidence out of court since the defense attourney i had worked for the judge and he convieinetly did not turn the evidence in at discovery. Then they gave me a poarole violation after they told me i was no where to be found when the parole officer who had an attitude from hell had my apt address my personnel phone number my work# the adress where i worked daily and my boss’s phone mobile number! i got pulled over for a speeding ticket and their was a warrant for my arrest! i went to court once again the judge asked me if i still thought his ct room was a joke and sentinced me to a year in prison. I got their even the warden asked why i was their when i got put on parole! iwas not in controal of the crooked county know more the state relaesed me from parole in 90-days Even the parole officer asked why? I said because i stood up for my rights!! that was in 2008 now i can not get a descent job anywhere because they dont go by who you are they go by some peace of papper people they dont even know tell them about you! But anyway thanks for listening. And young people who read this please work for change! and respect those with knowledge dont make them outcasts because they work hard and believe in the honor code.
    Thanks sincerly Larry Rush proud of our country, but worried about our government;-[

  3. I e been diagnosed with a major depression.

  4. some people in this world are mental_but_i’m not.

  5. I am 59 years old Have many talents but due to this economy, I lost everything, I took care of my elderly mother for 4 years, then lost my job, when she ended up in a Convalescent home. The time for unemployment came and went and I went for many months with no income at all then they would give me fed extension only lasted a few more weeks, then again without income until the fed extension came and again… a few more weeks….no jobs, I am a single woman and we ended up homeless for a long time! I think that I was so traumatized me, that it caused me to be so depressed and it takes a toll on your memory. I can see how people are suffering and I care and worry for this whole globe as I know in my heart that it is all messed up, and honestly no one really asks us what we want, and the government does not really have our well being at heart.
    I wanted to start up my own business but again I am on unemployment,as I moved to Texas and worked for 8.00 dollars an hour and was again laid off. and again struggling, I only have two more weeks left and have not found a job,
    1 question that no one seem to address!
    what about those of us who cannot live on minimum wage?
    We are a country that is being killed by poverty and poverty is a beast that over takes many, wake up people it is a huge problem and it must be dealt with!
    I am really homeless now and can not get help. Need to see our politicians caring for us and ask us what we want for our future. I can not tell you all my life story here but I have a good story to tell and I am intelligent and have skills but can not market my self to get a job unless i get help!
    I want to become self sufficient , own my own home and have a future but do not see that happening especially if i am forced to go to work for wages that will not support me. I will still be living a life of struggle.
    ok ….i am just trying to tell the truth someone who has power may read this and open their eyes to our reality. finished my prayers are for all of us to have a much brighter future!

  6. I was working for Walmart for approximately 5years…On April 18th 2012 about 2hours I was suppose to leave work I was called in the back office. Before I headed back there a Customer Service Manager said It was nice working with you. I didnt pay her any mind. While in the mangers office I was told I was fired because I ate food at the customer service desk. I disputed that and I let them know I did not eat any food behind there and they could look at the video. The person who actually ate the slice of pizza is still employeed and pizza is still being served. I was told if I had told or let the manager know there was food being passed around I would still have my job… I guess I didnt play or took my job too serious that is why I was let go…

  7. I worked at sam’s club for 29yrs 11mons and 2wks. I started working right out of high school at 18. became a inventory control specialist (audit team). Moved to Mckinney Texas to help my ageing parents so i was able to transfer to that sam’s in mckinney. It was a wonderful club, but shortly after started getting bullied my various management and team leaders. the nic picking was getting out of control. as soon as i decided to call home office about this,the gm reacted and had variuos people watching my every move. On May 18th i came to work with a severe head ache and set at my desk from 9:45 am and closed my eyes,and at 9:52 am the general manager came in my office and accused me of being asleep for seven minutes. I tried to explain to him that i was a little nauseated and that the lights in the building was making it worse. He gave me a look and five days later i’m unemployed. and i’m having to fight for my unemployment. that day was the worse day of my life, i’ve lost my insurance, my years with sam’s club and my income. it’s been 4 months now and i have over 40 employment apps out there, no one has responded. I’m so scared i’m about to lose my house and the cabinets are empty. The thing that hurts the most is \I loved working for Sam’s club, thats all i know\

  8. I can sympathyze with the persons who have written above my post. The Workforce Commission is not here to help the persons whom have worked for many years and have paid into their pensions and into their unemployment insurance (yes, paid for by their past employers.) I have recently seen an unjust and unfair system; one who helps those who only work months at a time and come back to restart the cycle…AND those people get unemployment benefits, child care and a host of other benefits. All the while one tries to be a good employee and a good citizen and I have yet be see one unemployment check come in. Everyday I look for work, applications submitted and denied. At this point, I can even change careers, but have found nothing. Thank God for Prayer, a great family and great friends. Help me Jesus, cause I’m at the end of my rope.

  9. It seems like I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel… This is my second time coming to Texas in search of a better life for me and my kids. I recently received a healthcare certification, but I still haven’t landed a job. I had no other choice but to get government assistance; which was a hassel to receive, but I’m thankful for the help.

    I am so stressed out and nervous, but I have no other choice but to hold it together somehow. I can’t sleep at night and when I do I have dreams I can’t even put together. I am so scared. I am scared to drive my car thinking something is gonna break and I will be stranded with my babies with no money to get help; and the people here are not too friendly. I feel like I am in a bubble without a door to escape.

    It has to get better one day because it feels like I am at the end of my rope trying to hold on with one hand and hold my kids with the other hand and still juggle bills and every day needs with another hand that I know I don’t have.

    I know I am not the only person who feels like this. This dreppresion that I’m in is causing my body to hurt, inside and out. I will stay in constant prayer for each and everyone of us who’s on this page. I believe and I know it will be alright because God has the final answer and He wont leave His children. We are going through this for a reason.


  10. I carry a higher power with me daily and I believe that jesus is the key to staying sain right now! I have been out of work for about 7 1/2 months and I feel the lord is training me to remain faithful and wait and lead on his everlasing love. I know through faith that I should put on the whole armore and stand strong and fight my way through this depression, stress and that faith is saying that everything is going to be alright! He’s preparing me! I know that even though I place a lot of applications and called and I can tell no matter what the person say that I’m speaking with that god is in control and that’s what I believe! I carry a sincere heart and I also just completed a course in a whole new careet of medical terminologist specialist, and I get up every morning and continue to apply for a position as “CEHRS”. God has never let me down and my faith in his is so strong and and that’s what I “BELIEVE”!
    So to anyone reading this “DON’T GIVE UP! DON’T GIVE UP! God is still in control no matter who don’t believe.

  11. In response to all stories above, we are not alone. I too am unemployed for the second time in my life. In my early 50s and am shocked to know I am unemployed this late in the game.

    For the person who came to Texas to become employed, you should have checked into your the pay scale for your position you were seeking. I have lived in Texas all my life. The state does have work, however they are not high paying jobs to be able to live on. Gov Perry has created jobs, but lets’ face it, they do not pay anything unless you have many degrees. Who can live on 10-12 dollars an hour???

    The ex Wal-Mart and Sams’ Club employees…GET AN ATTORNEY!!!!!!! Sounds like you have grounds for WRONGFUL TERMINATION. Do not let them get away with using you to cut their workforce without having to pay unemployment. The person with 29 yrs. You have retirement and other benefits many unemployed people do not have, so consider yourself very fortunate in these times.

    The jobs here in Texas that are available now are mostly low paying retail jobs for the very young and these companies are hiring young inexperienced workers. Some are even starting them out with 10-12-15 $ per hr. with very little skills and experience, but because they the mold they are hired! The colleges are churning out an unbelievable amount (in record numbers) foreign students who are getting American jobs while in college. These are jobs with high incomes, 50K to 70K. Believe me I worked temp at a major University last yr. in the Admissions Dept.

    The U.S.A. is not making anything anymore here like we used to! The jobs our President saved are Automotive, Union, Wallstreet and teaching jobs. Well we don’t make cars or have a Wallstreet! Or Union work for women here in TEXAS! Things have got to change and I have been through many economies and have never seen it so bad! But I intend to keep on trying and I am not giving up! The people in the Government are truly out of touch with what is happening at the bottom and people who have had their jobs for many years are just as unaffected as the people who run this great country. They have not felt the hardships of what is happening in this economy! Good Luck to all of us and do not give up!

  12. Recently I was contacted by a company that was impressed with my resume, so i scheduled an interview. After filling out the many papers and giving them another copy of my resume, I was told I needed to take a couple of tests. I was amazed as to how many there were tied to the link! I completed the tests and while I was taking these tests I began to wonder! Who comes up with this unneccessary ****! I am 55 yrs old and I dont understand why I needed to take them. They were asking the same dang questions over and over, just in a different way. I have many years of experience working in offices! The funny thing is they never called me back! Guess I was too old for them! Any job you work at they have to teach you their procedures. I feel like once you get older society wants write you off! I believe in GOD and he will provide! But it is really stressful trying to live day to day working on a job that pays 9hr and I cannot even afford to pay for medical insurance. I gotta eat and have a roof over may head! Corporate America look at what you have done!!!!!!!

  13. To all those people who are unemployed just like me!! I totaly get it I’m 54 and just like that lady I too understand. Have tried real hard to get employed permanatly but all I have found are temporary jobs that yeap you guessed it pay 9 or 10 Hr and man I’m a grandfather and it’s hard that I cant take my kids anywhere at all… So
    Yes our Federal Government really needs to get a clue
    Need jobs but jobs that can sustain us at least
    Need to know when is this going to happen 4 four years 5 five years
    After that I feel it will be too late for me.

    God bless us all and let’s talk to our governors and reps and
    get their ***** of their chairs and look around

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