The economic downturn and subsequent recession in the United States has yielded more than just long-term unemployment. As the Washington Post reports, the ramifications of a bad economy can be seen in Americans’ mental health.

Of the 14 million unemployed individuals in the United States, three-quarters have been of work for more than six months; fully half have been out of work for more than two years. Ronald Kessler, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, told the Post that in the initial months of unemployment, most people are eager to get back into the workforce.

“But after a while they get worn down and discouraged,” he said. “And that’s when you start to see the mental health problems. And for the U.S., that time is now.”

The number of Americans identified as clinically depressed has risen from 6.6 percent in 2001 –pre-recession time– to 9 percent this past year. But many unemployed Americans are unable to afford the mental health care they need.

Carl Van Horn, a professor of public policy and economics at Rutgers and head of the Heldrich Center called it a “silent mental health epidemic.”

“Losing a job is more than just a financial crisis for people,” he said. “It creates numerous other damage, stress, anxiety, substance abuse, fights and conflicts in the family and feelings of embarrassment and depression.”

Read the rest of the Washington Post article

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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