THOUSANDS of people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus, and millions more have been furloughed. Express.co.uk has expert tips on how to help yourself and others with the devastating effects of losing your job.
Coronavirus has severely changed the way we live, and even after the virus has disappeared, it is clear it will forever change the way we work and interact with each other. Last week the Office for National Statistics has announced economic activity dropped by 20.4 percent in April – the largest drop in a single month since records began in 1997. The fall massively outstrips the then-record 5.8 percent drop in March gross domestic product (GDP) that the ONS reported last month.
This means GDP fell by 10.4 per cent in the three months to April and sets the UK on course for one of its worst quarters in history.
Swathes of industries ground to a halt when the lockdown began on March 23, and the effects on the economy have been devastating.
It is estimated a third of all the workforce is either on furlough or Universal Credit.
But it has not just been the economy that suffered. The individual toll on those who have lost their jobs, livelihoods and incomes is immense, and the fallout is expected to last well into the future.
Thousands of people have already lost their jobs and income, forcing them onto Universal Credit if they cannot get onto furlough schemes. And when that ends, there has been wide speculation that another wave of job losses may happen.
Dr Paul McLaren, a consultant psychiatrist and medical director at the Priory’s Hospital in Bromley, has offered Express.co.uk readers with some helpful tips on how to cope if you have lost your job due to coronavirus.
“There are a number of different psychological formulations of the process, but it is important to remember that there is no ‘checklist’ and it is not a linear process,” Dr McLaren said.
“Not everyone goes through every stage with every loss, and there is a lot of overlap.”
It’s well known that if you don’t help yourself, it becomes very difficult for others to help you through tough times.
Dr McLaren said: “People need rhythm and pattern in their lives. Some of us need more pattern than others.
“We can feel stress when patterns are overrun and we have too much to do, but also when we have too little to do.
“We have an optimum level of activity and challenge, and if we veer too far from that we feel stressed.”
He advises taking a step back to take stock of your situation before moving forward with trying to find a replacement for the job you lost.
“Take a step back and think about the usual pattern of your life. How does it work when you’re at your most content? Break it down into its main elements and see if you can quantify them.
“You will need to be proactive and organise your time. Socialising through a video call will never be as powerful as meeting face to face, but it could produce some soothing.
“Replace your ‘work’ with networking and applying for any jobs, including part-time work or volunteering.”
Sharing your feelings
“Sharing your feelings is central to grieving,” Dr McLaren says.
“We need to find different ways of sharing for different losses like a job loss. Let someone you trust know how you feel.
“It’s okay to say that it’s painful and that it hurts. It’s okay to feel sad.
“It’s okay to remember the good times and to appreciate what you have lost.
“Don’t pretend to yourself or others that it doesn’t matter. Let them know it does.”
Dr McLaren adds: “Watch out for denial. It’s okay to feel pain when something happens that hurts. Don’t try to numb it with drugs or alcohol.”
“It can be very difficult to keep motivated and remain optimistic in these uncertain times – especially when the financial worries mount up but try to maintain some routines, to help alleviate the anxiety.
“Take advantage of any help your company is offering in terms of retraining, or coaching.
“If you have been made unemployed, it’s important to know how to claim assistance from the government.
“The Citizens Advice Bureau is a valuable resource for coronavirus advice. If you’ve lost your job then you may be eligible to claim for Universal Credit.”
Citizens Advice have got a continuously updated page on Coronavirus advice here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/coronavirus/
There’s also a specific page around benefits here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/coronavirus-check-what-benefits-you-can-get/.
They also have Adviceline – 03444 111 444 – or you can chat with an adviser online on their website.
Anyone seeking to make a new claim for Universal Credit should call the Universal Credit Help to Claim line on 0800 1448444.
Dr McLaren advises that supporting someone close to you who may have lost their job is crucial in helping them recover.
He said: “By far and away, the most important thing you can do to support a loved one who has lost their job is to listen to them. Take the time and trouble to understand how they feel about their loss.
“That allows them to heal. Don’t assume that you know how they feel. Don’t try to cheer them up; walk with them through their dark place.
“Most importantly, help them to feel cared for and valued.”