Redundancies pose more mental health risks for men

Men facing redundancy are likely to be more depressed and anxious than women, even though they claim to be less concerned, research claims.

A study by the University of Cambridge found that job insecurity took a greater toll on men’s mental health, especially for those under threat of being laid off, compared with workers actually made redundant.

Dr Brendan Burchell, senior lecturer at Cambridge University, studied data taken from 300 employees over the last two recessions. He found that although men put on a brave face in times of uncertainty, they recorded higher rates of anxiety and depression than women.

“Men, unlike women, have few positive ways of defining themselves outside of the workplace when they leave school and when they retire,” Burchell said.

“Despite several decades of more equal employment opportunities for men and women, men retain traditional beliefs that their masculinity is threatened if their employment is threatened.”

He added that there was in part “a macho issue about men being the breadwinner”.

The research found that the stress and anxiety of people who had become unemployed “bottomed out” after about six months as they adapted to their new circumstances.

By contrast, people who had not lost their jobs but were worried about doing so displayed steadily worsening mental health for one to two years.

Unemployment statistics show that the number of women in full-time work fell by 53,000 in the last quarter of 2008, compared with a drop of 36,000 for men.

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