Social Health Indicators: Unemployment

In the clinic, I see people with health problems that are experienced at an individual level, and of course, we often discuss lifestyle changes that hopefully lie within the ability of the individual to change, in order to help them reduce their impairment and regain their health.

In this post, though, I want to address some of the issues that can affect our health collectively, as a society.  Many things

that have a powerful impact on our health do not lie solely within the ability of any single individual to change, but must also be addressed by people joining together to address these social problems in the political, cultural or economic arena.

One of the well-known social threats to individual health  is unemployment.  A recent study making good use of existing research covering 20 million people in 15 countries over the last 40 years, found that unemployment was associated with a statistically significant 63% increase in the risk of premature death, an effect that is 40% stronger in men, especially men under 50, than in women:

Eran Shor, a member of the study’s research team and a sociology professor at McGill University [said] “There is probably a causal relationship here.”  In past research on the topic, Shor said it was hard to distinguish whether pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes or heart problems, or behaviors such as smoking, drinking or drug use, lead to both unemployment and a greater risk of death. In the new study, controls were included to account for those factors.  “One interesting thing is that we didn’t find an effect for pre-existing health conditions,” Shor told LiveScience.

There are many other negative things associated with unemployment.  A reduction in income, the fear of losing one’s home, the fear that the family may no longer be adequately provided for, boredom, lack of purpose, feeling useless, the dashing of hopes and expectations, the list of negatives that unemployment can bring goes on and on.  It is perhaps not unsurprising to find that unemployment is also strongly associated with depression and mental health issues.

We live in a time when the experience of unemployment is increasingly common, and where those who we’ve entrusted to address this do not appear to have either the will or the way, or both, to do so.  It’s effects hit, not only individuals, but families and communities, sometimes fracturing them. What can we do to address this urgent social and economic concern that can have such a devastating impact on our health and that of those we know?

Here are some thoughts, and I hope you will feel free to add yours.

1) Find ways to use up that extra time and keep any skills and talents sharp.  There are many, many groups out there crying out for volunteers.  Get involved with others in volunteer activities that benefit and beautify your community.  Making oneself useful is, at least, an antidote to feeling useless.  The fact that the current system wants to spit some of us out does not mean our skills and talents should be lost forever to our families and communities.

2) Keep up the friendships and help build family and community solidarity.  Spending time with others does not have to cost money, and making sure we have daily contact with friends and relations is a huge antidote to the loneliness and despair that unemployment can produce.

3) Find other ways to trade.  Just because there is less money in circulation doesn’t mean that we have to deprive ourselves of those things that we can do and produce for one another.  Offer time in exchange for the work or the goods of others.  Be willing to be paid “in kind”.  Alternative trading networks may provide us all with more resilience in hard times.  Such trading patterns are easiest to conduct when we keep our social lives busy and active.

4) Study ways to be more self-suffient.  Many people are growing some of their food, making some of their clothes, finding ways to recycle discarded things back into useful things.   Just for example:

As a member of the bigger society, I too, while not completely unemployed, am vastly underemployed, and would like to be making much better use of my skills and my time than I am.  For my part, I am committed to doing business in ways that address not only people’s health problems, but looking at the bigger picture, their income problems.

For example, the Thursday affordable multi-bed clinic – treatments €15/20.

For example, ALWAYS willing to discuss discount options during private clinics – treatments €35.

And, now, you’ll hear it here for the first time – Healing Haven Acupuncture clinic is now officially open to offers of payment “in kind.”  Let’s talk!  Our health is a precious resource for us all.  Healthy individuals, families and communities are more resilient in the bad times and are good for one another.  Let’s help one another to get through this, employed or unemployed.

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Filed under acupuncture, community clinic, healing haven, health, poverty, relationships, unemployment

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