Friday, 30 April 2010

The Depressions Of Unemployment

For me, nothing's more frustrating than receiving a letter of rejection. Well, apart from finding a job to apply for in the first place.

If you've read any of my previous posts you'll know that I tend to receive rejections from companies on a fairly regular basis. If you haven't, during the average week I will receive between 5 and 10 rejection via post or email.

I'm beginning to feel the frustration and depression build with each rejection I receive, and at some point I can see this mutating into a more substantial form of depression. What worries me most is that I’ll reach a point where I simply can’t continue to get knocked back, such was the case in the recent tragic story of Vicky Harrison.

Vicky, 21, was an intelligent girl who had unsuccessfully applied for more than 200 jobs. She had good GCSE and A-Level results, and had also studied for a year at South Bank University in London before quitting due to not enjoying the course.

When back at her family home in Darwen, Lancashire, she started applying for jobs in her local schools. Vicky wanted desperately to get into teaching, and applied for jobs such as secretaries or dinner ladies, with the ambition of becoming a teaching assistant, with the ultimate dream of becoming a teacher.

Unfortunately, like many unemployed and educated young people, Vicky was unsuccessful in her attempts, and found herself lowering her sights somewhat. Desperate for money, with the paltry Jobseeker's Allowance not being enough, she found herself applying for jobs such as waitressing, shelf stacking, and she even found herself enquiring at fast food outlets such as McDonalds.

All of this was unfortunately in vain, and on March 31 Vicky was found dead in her lounge. This was the day after receiving her final rejection letter from a nursery.

She left two suicide notes; one for her parents and one for her boyfriend. They read: 'It's just that I don't want to be me any more.' and ''Please don't be sad. It's not your fault. I want everybody in life to be HAPPY.'

Her parents believe that these rejections, coupled with her lack of money, meant that Vicky had become increasingly 'humiliated' and 'upset' at being out of work for so long, and also at not being able to socialise with her friends because she couldn't afford it.

As an unemployed young person myself, I can totally relate to this story as I can understand the frustration and depressions of unemployment. Vicky was clearly a bright girl who deserved to have a job within our society. Our society failed her, and that ultimately cost her life.

Unfortunately cases such as Vicky’s will continue to happen as depression and suicidal tendencies don't appear to be rare within unemployed people, particularly the young.

In New Zealand, researchers have found that unemployment actually trebles the 'suicide risk', whilst the Princes Trust here in the UK has warned that 1 in 3 unemployed young people will, or have felt suicidal tendencies at some point during their unemployment.

In relation to the research carried out in New Zealand, the Samaritans have said that 'being isolated, not being part of a work community at all, can increase feelings of vulnerability', while the Princes Trust themselves believe that 'the emotional effects on young people are profound, long-term and can become irreversible.' and that 'we must act now to prevent a lost generation of young people'.

It's hard to disagree with either of those statements, but how can we go about preventing this from happening to other young people who feel depressed about failing in their job search?

In my opinion the whole unemployment benefits system needs to be looked at by our next government. I feel that it’s so bad and demoralising that I've managed to stave off 'signing on' for the past three months, but increasingly I do need money, and I can see myself surrendering soon.

The reason for my distaste towards this ‘service’ stems from my last period of unemployment. Following redundancy, which was traumatic enough, my local Job Centre managed to make me feel like a worthless piece of dirt; the majority of the staff looked down their noses at me, and just viewed me as a number, not a human.

Then there’s the 'help' that they claim to provide; it was absolutely useless. It took 6 months before I was invited to a one hour session explaining how to search for jobs, something that I’d already done solo for half a year. That was it.

If the Princes Trust are correct and there are thousands of young people who feel equally or more depressed than myself, something has to be done. There could be a lot more tragedies similar to that of Vicky Harrison if it isn’t.

I don’t believe it’d be difficult for the next government to soften the harshness of unemployment by providing a service that actually helps the unemployed back into work. Subtle changes such as Job Centres providing comfort and support, rather than humiliation and disgust, would help greatly.

By writing this post I'm not saying that I'm going to go down the same route as Vicky Harrison by any stretch of the imagination, but I can certainly see myself becoming increasingly depressed as the pressure of not finding employment builds.

I just hope that in the near future the government finds a way of supporting the unemployed, or they could well be more blood on their hands.


Don Hancock said...

Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic.

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