Experiencing loneliness can make it much harder to find work in the future, due to the impact it can have on your mental health, a new study has revealed.
Previous research has found that being unemployed can cause loneliness, increasing isolation, however the new study from the University of Exeter in England, looked at whether being lonely had any impact on future employment.
Using pre-pandemic data from 15,000 working age adults, the team found those reporting that they feel lonely often were ‘significantly more likely to encounter unemployment later’, even if they are not lonely when applying for the job.
The effect was seen in men and women, but was most prominent among men, which the team say is ‘consistent with the societal view of them being the main earner’.
They didn’t explore why this was the case, but speculate it could be due to the impact loneliness has on mental health over time.
‘Addressing loneliness and unemployment has the potential to not only reduce healthcare burden and improve health outcomes, but improve economic prosperity and employability,’ the researchers wrote.
Experiencing loneliness can make it much harder to find work in the future, due to the impact it can have on your mental health, a new study has revealed. Stock image
Researchers were also able to confirm the reverse is true, finding that people currently unemployed are more likely to feel isolated.
Lead author Nia Morrish said the effect of loneliness and unemployment on health and the economy are persistent and potentially scarring.
‘Decreased loneliness could mitigate unemployment, and employment abate loneliness, which may in turn relate positively to other factors including health and quality of life,’ Morrish explained.
‘Thus, particular attention should be paid to loneliness with additional support from employers and government to improve health and wellbeing.
‘Our research was largely conducted pre-pandemic, however we suspect this issue may be even more pressing, with more people working from home and potentially experiencing isolation because of anxieties around covid.’
The research analysed largely pre-pandemic data from more than 15,000 people in the Understanding Society Household Longitudinal Study.
Previous research has found that being unemployed can cause loneliness, increasing isolation, however the new study from the University of Exeter in England, looked at whether being lonely had any impact on future employment. Stock image
They looked at responses from the volunteers gathered from 2017 to 2019, and then again from 2018 to 2020 – taking into account age, gender, ethnicity, education, marital status, household composition, number of own children and region.
Senior author Professor Antonieta Medina-Lara said loneliness is an important societal problem which is thoughts about in terms of impact on mental health.
‘Our findings indicate that there may also be wider implications, which could have negative impacts for individuals and the economy,’ the professor said.
‘We need to explore this further, and it could lay the foundations for employers or policy makers to tackle loneliness with a view to keeping more people in work.’
Co-author Dr Ruben Mujica-Mota, from the University of Leeds’ School of Medicine, said lonely people of any working age are at greater risk of unemployment.
‘Our findings show that these two issues can interact and create a self-fulfilling, negative cycle. There is a need for greater recognition of the wider societal impacts of loneliness in the working age population.’
The paper is published in the journal BMC Public Health.