The fiscal austerity measures enacted in Greece due to the recent financial crisis resulted in a reduction of household incomes, a rise of unemployment and consequently poverty, eroding social cohesion fabric and health status of the population. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of economic hardship and the socio-demographic profile of the unemployed population on their level of mental health. A cross sectional study was conducted in the Employment Promotion Centers (KPA2) of the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) in Attica. The study population was defined as the unemployed people who were registered in the OAED and visit the KPA2 in the region of Attica. The final sample consisted of 830 unemployed. The data were collected from June 2016 to September 2017. The questionnaires used were the Index of Personal Economic Distress and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. The statistical analysis was based on the SPSS 25 statistical program. The majority of the unemployed were women (66.1%) and the mean age was 35.8 ±10.3 years. 71.8% of the sample were short-term unemployed. 32.3% had a monthly net income before unemployment from €1001 to €1500, while during unemployment 35.2% had an income from €501 to €1000. Regarding financial status and mental health, 23.1% were in high financial hardship and 55.2% had depressive symptoms respectively. Financial hardship and mental health were positively correlated, proving that as the economic hardship of the unemployed population increases, so depressive symptoms increase (r = 0.328). Living arrangement (b = -0.985,) existence of children (b = 2.649), housing status (b = -2.165), duration of unemployment (b = 0.719), existence of other unemployed members in the household (b = 0.904) and existence of another source of income (b = -0.873), have been shown as predictors of economic hardship. Moreover, predictive factors of mental health were found to be: gender (b = 1.795), age (b = 0.179), existence children (b = -4.511), financial hardship (b = 0.551) and duration of unemployment (b = 2.658). The reduction in household incomes was estimated approximately as a basic wage income monthly, causing financial difficulties in daily needs and affecting the mental health of the unemployed population. The long-term unemployed and people with low socio-economic profiles are at higher risk of economic hardship and depressive symptoms. It is important for policy makers to invest in active employment policies and health policy interventions for the unemployed population.

KEYWORDS: Unemployment, financial hardship, mental health, Greece

Dimitra Latsou, Mary Geitona


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