The Work Foundation - Unemployment is bad for your health - new report shows how men suffer double whammy from joblessness

11 Jun 2014 11:21 AM

Services are failing to address the serious health problems worsened by unemployment in men, hampering their chances of finding and retaining a job. A new report to coincide with Men’s Health Week (9-15 June 2014) from the charity Men’s Health Forum and The Work Foundation, Lancaster University, outlines the problems and offers solutions. 
As the report shows, unemployed men, particularly those with previously unstable work and with a lower socio economic status, have a higher risk of developing poor health as a result of being unemployed than other groups. 
Sick of Being Unemployed: The health issues of out of work men and how support services are failing to address them sets out the effect of unemployment on men highlighting that:




The report calls on the government to act on preventing ill health and addressing existing health conditions that are barriers to employment within back to work support services. An event today  (11 June) with Norman Lamb MP, Minister for Care and Support will examine the problem and outline the interventions that could begin to address it. 

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said: 

'Mental health conditions can have a huge impact on people’s lives and this report highlights a major concern that men are being seriously affected by unemployment. 

“I want to build a fairer society where people can get access to the support and treatments that they need to stay healthy. To see this happen we are investing £400m to improve access to psychological therapies which have so far helped over 80,000 people move back to work.'

A case study in the report on an initiative from Tomorrow’s People and the James Wigg Health Centre, a GP surgery in London, shows how integrated health and unemployment support delivered very real benefits to patients. The GP surgery agreed to have a Tomorrow’s People employment advisor based in its practice to offer support. Around 70% of those helped by the service were unemployed, 85% of whom had been out of work for six months or more. The results were positive both in helping people return to work (87% entered employment, a voluntary or training placement, or some form of education) and in improving health outcomes. 

Martin Tod, chief executive of the Men’s Health Forum, said, “We knew ill people were more likely to be unemployed - now our new report shows that being unemployed makes men sick. Of course, unemployment doesn't just affect men, but the effect on health appears to be much greater amongst men than amongst women. The government must look at how ill-health in unemployed men could be prevented. Local councils must work in partnership with Jobcentres, health care providers and charities to tackle the toll of unemployment on men.” 

Jenny Gulliford, policy and research officer at The Work Foundation and lead author of the report said, “While the harmful effect of unemployment can be felt by both genders, there is evidence to suggest that men are overall more likely to suffer adverse health consequences than women, especially in the short term. 
“With poor health often a barrier to returning to work, the government needs to take action if it wants to improve job outcomes. Worryingly, despite potential capacity in the Work Programme, it seems there is a lack of specialist support to either prevent poor health or to support jobseekers with pre-existing long term conditions or disability. A more innovative approach to tackling the health of unemployed men, including taking action at an earlier stage and a joined-up approach from Jobcentres and other agencies, must be taken to improve both the health and employment outcomes for men.” 

Men can find more information on work, health and stress on the Men’s Health Forum’s website

Notes to Editors: 
1. Sick of Being Unemployed: The health issues of out of work men and how support services are failing to address them by Jenny Gulliford, Damian Shannon, Tyna Taskila, David Wilkins, Martin Tod and Stephen Bevan available at or and from the media teams in advance of publication.

2. Jenny Gulliford, Martin Tod and Stephen Bevan are available for interviews, briefings and written comment.

3. A breakfast seminar chaired by Geraint Johnes (director of The Work Foundation) with Norman Lamb MP, Minister for Care and Support, the report authors and John Chisholm, (chair of the Men’s Heath Forum and health and work lead for the Royal College of General Practitioners) will examine the evidence and solutions on Wednesday 11 June at The Work Foundation.

4. The Work Foundation transforms people’s experience of work and the labour market through high quality applied research that empowers individuals and influences public policies and organisational practices. It is part of Lancaster University. Follow us on or sign up to our press releases at 

5. The Men’s Health Forum is the voice for the health and wellbeing of men and boys. Our goal is the best possible physical and mental health and wellbeing for all men and boys. There is one premature male death every five minutes and far too many men and boys suffer from health problems that could be prevented. Follow us @menshealthforum for updates on our work.