Economic Slowdown, Joblessness And Mental Health Of People

Some say economic slowdown which India is facing at present is only cyclical in nature. Other say it is structural which is going to stay for a longer time. Very few are talking about how economic slowdown is going to affect the psychosocial well-being of people.

Youngsters who are looking for a job feel discouraged by the news of an unstable economy, jobless, slow growth rate.

Slow economic growth rate has pushed India into a situation where it is fighting many battles at several fronts. Rising inflation, growing unemployment, looming possibility of recession, all these are really bad news for jobseekers. What this means to the common individual is evident in the context of livelihood but in India, less attention has been given to the mental health outcomes of the poor economy.

Is There a Link between Mental Health of People and a Nation’s Economic Capacity?

Mental health is often called as mental capital. It is one of the most important factors for growth of the individuals. It also affects the growth of the community these individuals are part of.

According to a study conducted by the WHO, economic slowdown plays a major role in the development of mental health problems.

The study, titled Impact of Economic Crises On Mental Health , examined mental health of the people living in Europe. As per the study, there exists a reciprocal relationship between poor mental health and economic depletion.

Key findings of the Study
  • The economic crisis is expected to produce secondary mental health effects that may increase suicide and alcohol death rates.
  • However, the mental health effects of the economic crisis can be offset by social welfare and other policy measures.
  • Active labour market programmes aimed at helping people retain or regain jobs counteract the mental health effects of the economic crisis.
  • Family support programmes contribute to counteracting the mental health effects of the crisis.
  • Increasing alcohol prices and restricting alcohol availability reduce the harmful effects on mental health and save lives.
  • Debt relief programmes will help to reduce the mental health effects of the economic crisis and accessible and responsive primary care services support people at risk and prevent mental health effects.

The study aims to present current knowledge on how economic downturns affect population mental health and outlines some of the benefits of action that could be implemented to reduce the harmful effects on mental health of the current economic crisis.

Troubling Signs for India
  • According to the data released by the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), India’s unemployment rate was around 7.7% in December 2019.
  • National Crime Records Bureau’ data suggests that surge in suicide rate can be attributed to growing joblessness. It found that joblessness was responsible for 14 per cent of all the suicides committed in 2018.
  • To survive economic slowdown, companies are likely to retrench more people in coming months.
  • People who have either lost their jobs, or going to lose their jobs, or not finding a suitable job will become victims of worthlessness, helplessness, insecurity.

Because nobody wants to lose his job, people are forced to work harder than before. This results in job-burnout. This condition is recognized by the WHO. Prolonged response to workplace stress causes this condition. People feel more detached from their jobs, they suffer from emotional exhaustion and lack of enthusiasm.

Now we have many data that suggest that mental health and economic class are deeply interlinked. Even farmers’ suicide is being recognized more a mental health issue than an economic issue.

So far, policymakers seem to be more worried about how mental health will adversely affect economy. They are least bothered to assess how prolonged economic crisis affects people.

At present, India is going through a difficult phase. India’s economy needs a stimulus, but policymakers should not lose sight of sustainable well-being of workforce.

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