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Mentally strained: realities of the unemployed

Being out of work can take its toll on your mental health.

Written by Úna-Minh Kavanagh | View this authors Twitter page and posted in opinion

This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for please contact

"Living with depression and anxiety, you’d think I’d be able to handle the dark cloud when it makes an appearance but no"

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Unemployment can affect many areas of your life, including your mental health. Journalist Úna-Minh Kavanagh shares her experience below. Read more from Úna at

Today I started my routine of waking up and wondering if I was useful. Naively I thought that unemployment wouldn’t affect me as much as it would but instead I’ve been overwhelmed constantly by sense of panic that escapes into my mind.

It’s a situation that I’m sure many of you have experienced but haven’t spoken about so openly. I haven’t been in work since last June. I left my job to do a three-month culinary course and imagined it would be tricky to get something for a short period of time to fill the gap – and now, officially, my mental defences are down and I’m at a loss.

Living with depression and anxiety, you’d think I’d be able to handle the dark cloud when it makes an appearance but no – sometimes it’s easier said than done. The lack of employment damages my ability to see any good work that I’ve done over the past few years. In my mind, my CV is neither inspiring nor impressive and flicking through job spec after job spec, it’s no wonder people start to feel defeated.

Why are we never really taught the basic skills on how to cope with unemployment? Why must we have a reliance on ourselves to do research and read the self-help books? My feelings of uselessness and depression cloud my self-esteem and with every new job spec comes a feeling of desperation.

Contentment right now is hard to come by, with unemployment sitting like an elephant in the room, poking me with a stick. 

Today I’ve cried, a lot, but fingers crossed – there could be a glimmer of hope yet.

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Published January 19th, 2015
Last updated July 30th, 2015
Tags mental health unemployment wellbeing
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