Press Release: Report links unemployment with rising mental health problems for men

13 Jun 2011

The economic recession with its accompanying rise in unemployment rates is linked to extremely adverse effects for men’s mental health - according to new research from the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH).

The research report Facing the Challenge – The Impact of the Recession and Unemployment on Men’s Health in Ireland launched today, at the start of Men’s Health Week, identifies a strong expectation of increased mental health problems for men given the very strong correlation between unemployment and male mental ill health.

The report is the result of a research and consultation process carried out, in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, by Nexus Research Co-operative on behalf of IPH.

93% of frontline organisations, North and South, in contact with unemployed men linked health challenges to unemployment and recession and all organisations surveyed noted adverse health challenges for men they work with. In addition to health challenges being higher for unemployed men, they were also very high for men who saw themselves as being threatened with unemployment.

The organisations surveyed and the men who were interviewed identified the challenges to health as:
•    High levels of stress or anxiety
•    Dependency on or over-use of alcohol/other drugs
•    Deterioration in physical health
•    Development of conflict in family or close personal relationships
•    Isolation (including sharing or communicating problems)
•    A reluctance to approach services or seek help

IPH Associate Director, Owen Metcalfe stated: “This research has identified the relationship between being unemployed and suffering ill health, particularly mental health for men. Men’s health issues in times of economic recession are made more difficult by their tendency to take fewer health preventative measures, and be less likely to seek support.”  

The increase in the number of suicides is a particular cause for concern.  In 2010, 313 deaths in Northern Ireland were registered as suicides, 240 of those were males and 73 were female, this is the highest figure on record.

The Republic of Ireland also recorded an increase in male suicides rates.  For the 12 month period ended June 2009 there were 379 male suicides.  For the 12 month period ended June 2010 this figure rose to 427.

Addressing the need

Mr Metcalfe continued: “The combination of perceived inadequate service responses and the reluctance of many men to communicate their problems mean that a large proportion of more critical effects are undoubtedly hidden. Organisations and projects operating within the community are often the first point of access and it is critical that they provide a secure and trusting environment for those seeking support.

Our report suggests that success in addressing the issue will be determined to a large extent by effective partnership arrangements between community-based groups and mainstream service providers.”

Mr Metcalfe concluded: “There are many challenges involved in addressing this growing problem. Through this research and other similar reports we can begin to improve public awareness and provide greater support for those who require it.”

Further Information
(RoI) Jemma Hogan, Montague Communications: (01) 830 3116 / 085 722 9024.
(NI) Grainne Walsh, Stratagem: (028) 908 72800 / 0792 016 5600.
(NI) Arlene McKay, IPH: (028) 9069 0058 / 0773 490 3944.