Those made jobless need mental health support too

It is heartening to note that the Government will spend $160 million more in the next five years on community mental health efforts (Increased aid to tackle dementia, mental health issues; Feb 21).

The mental wellness of one group of people must not be neglected - those who have just lost their jobs.

Many organisations exist to help those who are affected by job loss, by offering assistance like teaching them how to write curriculum vitaes, how to go on job sites and how to undergo training to change vocations.

But almost no organisation provides psychological support.

A sudden job loss can cause a lot of grief, especially for workers in their late 40s and 50s. This is more so if they were let go in an insensitive manner.

In our society, the loss of livelihood is often accompanied by a loss of face and a sense of low self-esteem, which can eventually lead to deep despair and worse, especially when the transition to a new job takes a long time or requires learning a completely new set of skills.

Loss of face and low self-esteem may not be considered mental illnesses according to the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders.

However, I have seen friends struggling with multifarious issues pertaining to their joblessness - some even resort to pretending to go to work each day, in order to keep it a secret from their families.

Many eventually lapse into severe depression, which leads to other more serious mental health issues.

Companies letting go of staff must be responsible enough to include in their human resource practices additional help to ensure that those affected are provided with adequate psychological support in their transition to new jobs.

Michael Loh Toon Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2017, with the headline 'Those made jobless need mental health support too'. Print Edition | Subscribe