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The role of financial hardship, mastery and social support in the association between employment status and depression: Results from an Australian longitudinal cohort study

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 03:23 authored by L Crowe, P Butterworth
Objective: There is robust epidemiological and clinical evidence of the harmful effects of unemployment on psychological well-being, but the mechanisms through which this occurs is still strongly debated. In addition, there is even less evidence on the impact of underemployment on mental health. Using longitudinal data collected from a cohort of 20-24 years old, the present study examines a range of employed states and investigates the role of mastery, financial hardship and social support in the relationship between labour status and depression. Method: Responses were from the Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life Project: A representative, community-based survey conducted in Canberra and Queanbeyan (NSW) in Australia, where respondents (n=2404) in their early twenties were followed for 8 years. Depression was measured using the self-report Goldberg Depression Scale, with the likely presence of depression being indicated by scores 7 or greater. Results: The analyses identified unemployment and underemployment as significant predictors of depression, compared to their employed counterparts. Both unemployment and underemployment remained significantly correlated with depression even after accounting for sociodemographic, economic and psychological variables. Social support, financial hardship and a sense of personal control (mastery) all emerged as important mediators between unemployment and depression. Conclusions: Both unemployment and underemployment were associated with increased risk of depression. The strength of this relationship was attenuated but remained significant after accounting for key variables (mastery, financial hardship and social support), and extensive sociodemographic and health covariates, indicating that no or inadequate employment contributes to poorer mental health over and above these factors.

History

Journal

BMJ Open

Volume

6

Article number

e009834

Pagination

1-10

Location

London, Eng.

ISSN

2044-6055

eISSN

2044-6055

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Issue

5

Publisher

BMJ Publishing Group