A lot of people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Some worked at public-facing businesses that are closed. Others lost their jobs as many companies lose money.
David Blustein, author of The Importance of Work in an Age of Uncertainty, says, “This is going to be a global pandemic of unemployment. I call it a crisis within a crisis.” Loss of income takes a huge physical, mental and emotional toll under normal circumstances, but particularly during a crisis.
I’ve heard stories of long waits for unemployment benefits making people unable to pay their bills. And that’s not even including gig workers, people who are self-employed, and others who don’t qualify for unemployment.
On top of trying to figure out how to eat and pay their bills, people who lost their jobs suddenly find themselves with a lot of free time. They’re stuck at home, with a lot of stress in their lives. This may lead to increased substance use and relapses.
Psychologists consider job loss a kind of grief, with similar stages of shock, denial, anger and bargaining. Many people have similar feelings about the current crisis. Mourning the loss of a job, a source of income, and a way of life while coming to grips with a global pandemic is extremely hard on a person’s mental health. Those who were laid off or fired may have compounded feelings of shame or lowered self-worth.
Adam Benson, a NY-based psychologist who has been in practice 20 years, says, “They are actually going through a loss, and once they realize this, they can be more compassionate with themselves and allow themselves to feel what they feel.” This may take a while to process, and that’s okay. People who haven’t lost their jobs are still processing the pandemic, so it’s okay to take a long time to work through these complex emotions.
As Benson suggests, allow them to play out as they will without judgement. Benson also recommends focusing on what you can control, like creating a budget. And he mentions that during this time, there’s a sense that everyone is in this together. I’ve noticed this too.
For instance, I’ve seen lots of people sharing links to virtual tip jars for people in the service industry (this list has links to tip jars for multiple cities). While losing a job can often be a lonely experience, it’s heartening to see people coming together to help. It’s a reminder that none of us are in this alone.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder during this crisis, you are not alone in this, either. At TruHealing Centers, many of our staff have been where you are and understand what you are going through. We are open and here for you. Each of our facilities are using third-party, hospital-grade sanitization to ensure your safety. At our recovery centers across the country, we provide high-quality and compassionate treatment for addiction and mental health disorders. To find out more, call 410-593-0005.