Job clubs could reduce depression in unemployed people

January 6, 2017
Job clubs could reduce depression in unemployed people
Credit: University of Bristol

Job clubs could be effective in reducing depression in people experiencing the effects of unemployment, particularly those at high risk of depression, an NIHR-funded study has found.

Many people feeling depressed and anxious because of financial hardship do not seek help from their GP. The study, led by University of Bristol researchers from the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West (NIHR CLAHRC West), reviewed 'randomised controlled trials' to understand the effectiveness of the support available for people, other than visiting a GP and taking anti-depressants and other drugs.

Of the 11 randomised controlled trials reviewed during this study, five assessed job club interventions—group meetings where people are given job skills training. People who received the job club intervention reported lower depression scores than people who didn't receive it. The largest effect was seen in those identified at the start of the trial as being at of depression. Interventions assessed in other trials reviewed during this study did not show any evidence of any benefit.

Published in Psychological Medicine, the results provide evidence to suggest that job clubs are effective. However, overall the evidence that job club, or debt advice interventions work is very limited and more research is needed to identify the best approach to support people who lose their or experience financial hardship.

Professor David Gunnell, who led the study, said: "During economic recession more people are out of work, home repossessions and debt increase, people still in work may also feel that it's harder to cope financially, and welfare benefits reduce. Financial difficulties can lead to relationship strain too. All of these can make people feel depressed and anxious over a long period of time and some people contemplate or attempt self-harm and suicide.

"We were interested in understanding what support could be offered to people during times of economic hardship, beyond taking drugs or other medical interventions. Our findings suggest that job clubs are effective, especially for those at high risk of depression. But the evidence for other types of interventions is very weak. With more public funding cuts ahead, we're likely to see more and more people falling on hard times, and it's vital that we understand how we can help them cope."

Reducing the effect of job loss and debt on mental health should be an important element of policy response to periods of recession. Research shows that government spending on active labour market programmes and unemployment protection schemes can counter the effect of recession on suicide rates. But austerity measures, such as reassessing whether people are eligible for benefits, have the opposite effect.

Professor Gunnell has recently published another study in BMJ Open looking at the events and experiences that lead people who are experiencing to self-harm. That study found that resulting from the recession and austerity measures accumulated over time, or acted as a 'final straw', triggering self-harm. These people tend to have already experienced many damaging life-experiences, including abuse, neglect, bullying, domestic violence, mental health problems, relationship difficulties, bereavements and low self-esteem.

Explore further: Research finds risk of suicide and mental illness increases during recession

More information: T. H. M. Moore et al. Interventions to reduce the impact of unemployment and economic hardship on mental health in the general population: a systematic review, Psychological Medicine (2016). DOI: 10.1017/S0033291716002944

Related Stories

Research finds risk of suicide and mental illness increases during recession

November 6, 2015
The economic recession of 2008 – 2010 was followed by increases in rates of suicide, suicide attempts, and mental illness, a PolicyBristol report from a team led by academics at the University of Bristol has found.

Study explores unemployment-depression links

August 22, 2016
The increased risk of mental illness for people who are unemployed is due to more than just financial hardship, a new study from The Australian National University (ANU) has found.

Supporting children exposed to domestic violence—call for stronger evidence base

December 14, 2016
Services for children who are exposed to domestic violence and abuse are vital, but NIHR-funded researchers have found that there is little evidence for what support works best.

Debt linked to mental health problems

September 26, 2013
New research, led by the University of Southampton, has shown that people in debt are three times more likely to have a mental health problem than those not in debt.

Financial worries linked to mental health issues among university students

August 9, 2016
Experiencing financial difficulties and worrying about debt at university increases the risk of mental health conditions such as depression and alcohol dependency, according to new research from the University of Southampton ...

Recommended for you

Depression changes structure of the brain, study suggests

July 21, 2017
Changes in the brain's structure that could be the result of depression have been identified in a major scanning study.

Many kinds of happiness promote better health, study finds

July 21, 2017
A new study links the capacity to feel a variety of upbeat emotions to better health.

Study examines effects of stopping psychiatric medication

July 20, 2017
Despite numerous obstacles and severe withdrawal effects, long-term users of psychiatric drugs can stop taking them if they choose, and mental health care professionals could be more helpful to such individuals, according ...

Study finds gene variant increases risk for depression

July 20, 2017
A University of Central Florida study has found that a gene variant, thought to be carried by nearly 25 percent of the population, increases the odds of developing depression.

In making decisions, are you an ant or a grasshopper?

July 20, 2017
In one of Aesop's famous fables, we are introduced to the grasshopper and the ant, whose decisions about how to spend their time affect their lives and future. The jovial grasshopper has a blast all summer singing and playing, ...

Perceiving oneself as less physically active than peers is linked to a shorter lifespan

July 20, 2017
Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about equally active as other people your age?

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.