Academics at the University of Stirling have determined that a crucial risk factor for future unemployment is experiencing emotional problems in adolescence, including nervousness and depression. Specifically, people between the ages of 16 through 20 suffering from emotional distress are 32 percent more likely to be unemployed and 26 percent more likely to be unemployed in early adulthood.

The study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine adds that the effects of emotional distress on employment exacerbated during the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009. The study involved analysing more than 7,000 adults in the US born between 1980 and 1984 for 12 years beginning in 1997.

The researchers found that those who are more inclined to feel nervous or depressed face higher chances of unemployment in early adulthood compared to those who tend to feel calm or happy.

Depression and anxiety during adolescence increases unemployment risk. Photo from Pixabay/BrookLorin

Depression and anxiety during adolescence increases unemployment risk. Photo from Pixabay/BrookLorin

“These findings provide strong evidence that distressed adolescents are vulnerable to unemployment and suggest that this vulnerability increased during the recent difficult economic period following the Great Recession,” says Mark Egan of the Behavioural Science Centre at the University of Stirling.

The researchers suggest that solving these mental health issues may help joblessness. Hence, they urge for investment in mental health services.

“Investing in childhood and adolescent mental health services could have economic benefits including reducing population-level unemployment,” Egan adds. “Widening access to effective treatments for early life distress could lead to large economic returns by helping individuals into employment and increasing their lifetime earnings.”

This new study echoes the findings of a previous one which showed that unemployment increases anxiety and depression among youths to the point of being unable to find work. More than half of young people become isolated and stop seeing other people who could help them land a job.

These issues greatly affect the performance of these youths during job interviews. One respondent told the Guardian, “I just didn’t believe in myself. If I went to a job interview I wouldn’t be able to make eye contact with the interviewer and I would just think that there is no way I am going to get the job.”