Colorado West Regional Mental Health: Coping during a down economy

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Promote Awareness

May is Mental Health Month and to promote awareness, the Craig Daily Press is publishing a series of articles supplied by Craig Mental Health.

For more information or emergency mental health assistance, call Craig Mental Health at 824-6541.

An economic recession can present increased stress and hardship on individuals, families and communities.

The daily news of war, the failing economy and the adversity experienced by friends and family is trying on the emotional health of individuals and families.

What happens when these hardships enter a person’s home? Unemployment is one of the most significant emotional hardships that a person will experience in adulthood. Job loss can lead to loss-of-life meaning and purpose, which in turn makes an individual and their families more vulnerable to depression, anxiety, anger, family discord and substance abuse.

American adults spend more time working than anything else. Individuals and family members are often surprised by the myriad emotions afflicting them with a job loss.

There is complex meaning and purpose attached to employment; it speaks to who we are as people — it is how we define ourselves. These new stressors can lead to family problems due to changing roles (for example, an unemployed father and breadwinner may start feeling like he is losing status in the family).

This change in the family dynamic may manifest in children acting out or in increased marital strife.

With all of this dire news, it must be remembered that the loss of one’s employment is also opportunity to re-evaluate life goals and create new life meanings through spiritual growth, education, pursuit of new hobbies and interests, and a renewed focus on health and exercise.

In prosperity people often become complacent about deeper issues such as the greater meaning of life, and it may take a shock such as a job loss to light the fire of self-discovery.

After the initial shock of unemployment dissipates, an opportunity presents itself for creating something new.

This can be an exciting time for rediscovery. In fact, an individual may not have faced deeper issues had it not been for the loss.

While mired in complex emotions, this conflicted period often leads to deep self-examination and reinvention.

Therapy is a useful vehicle during this transition period. Contrary to popular belief, finding life meaning and purpose are not just things that “happen,” rather it is an active process that is methodically created.

Therapy focused on these deeper thoughts of meaning and purpose can help a person create a new outlook, bringing peace to the individual and to their family members.

Therapy groups can also be helpful; finding others who share your situation helps one feel less isolated, which decreases the risk of depression, substance abuse and anger.

Unemployment is considered one of the most complex and stressful periods in a person’s life and there is no reason to tackle this time alone.

Seek advice and guidance, which will lessen the stress experienced on you and on your family.

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