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Employment, Unemployment, and Workplace Issues in Relation to Men’s Mental Health

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Men’s Issues and Men’s Mental Health

Abstract

Unemployment, precarious employment, and job stress/strain are all risk factors for adverse mental health outcomes including depression, substance abuse, and suicide. These risk factors appear to have a stronger impact on the mental health of men than women. Evidence suggests that this gender differential may be due to three factors. First, men typically remain the primary breadwinner for their family, and their income is essential to support the household, meaning that unemployment can have serious consequences for their standard of living and quality of life. Second, men tend to work longer unsociable hours, meaning absence from family and friends, and men tend to work in more dangerous and risky occupations, meaning greater exposure to hazardous psychosocial or physical workplace conditions, which can create job stress and job strain. Third, men draw considerable purpose, meaning, and positive identity from their role as a productive worker and family breadwinner; this status is respected by wider society, while male unemployment remains highly stigmatized. All of this can interact to create psychological distress in men affected by these issues. Of note, the decline in manufacturing and other male-dominated industries may be having a particularly pernicious effect on the mental health of less-educated blue-collar manual workers.

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Whitley, R. (2021). Employment, Unemployment, and Workplace Issues in Relation to Men’s Mental Health. In: Men’s Issues and Men’s Mental Health. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-86320-3_8

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