As you become older work becomes a central part of your life and how you spent your time. Leaving compulsory education leaves you with the choices of work, more education, apprenticeships, training, volunteering, or maybe doing nothing. As much as people might moan about having to get up and go to work everyday, having a vocation is actually a massively important part of our day, gives us a purpose, and forms part of our identity - have you ever noticed that one of the first things people ask when they meet for the first time is ‘and what do you do?’
Being in employment gives us financial stability and planning for the future, it also gives us skills in our profession, an opportunity to develop our careers, builds our self-esteem, gives us an opportunity to socialise with others and to network and meet new people. Similarly Volunteering offers these same opportunities although without the pay! If you are going into further education there is also the huge consideration of student debt with tuition fees alone set at £3,290 per year and set to rise to £9,000 in 2012. You might wonder if it is worth studying with this debt and the job opportunities following university. But you might have your sights set on a career where you need to do this. And you might be looking forward to the social elements university offers: meeting new people, moving away from home, going out a lot…
Being employed, in education or doing some kind of meaningful activity is massively important for our mental health. This is shown by the rise in mental health problems in people that are unemployed: Newspapers report that there is a rise in mental health problems following the recession due to job insecurities and redundancies (‘Recession causes surge in mental health problems: Study reveals sharp rise in people suffering stress, anxiety and depression due to redundancies and job insecurity’, Guardian April, 2010) and charities doing research into metal health confirm this (‘Recession puts mental health of men at risk’, MIND, May 2009). Statistics also support this, and it has been shown that Depression and Anxiety are 4-10 times more prevalent among people who have been unemployed for more than 12 weeks (HM Government, 2009) which has a significant impact on these people’s lives and society as whole in terms of NHS costs etc (people who are unemployed consult their GPs more often than the general population). There are also other factors which can impact on your mental health such as bank debts, student debts, strained relationships, a lack of disposable income to do social activities with and exam stress if you are studying.
Being out of employment and returning to work can be a daunting experience. You might not know where to start. This section of the site gives you advice on how to write a CV, how to prepare for an interview, how to manage exam stress, handle debt and getting back into work.
- HM Government (2009). Work, Recovery and Inclusion. London.