Mental Health 101 Self Help

6 Ways To Support Someone Who is Unemployed

Losing one’s job can be emotionally devastating. If your friend or family member is going through such a difficult time, below are some ways you can help their mental health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has rendered millions of people all over the world laid off, and chances are that one of them is someone that you personally know. 

If your friend or family member is suddenly unemployed, it’s normal for you to feel concerned but unsure of what to do or say to make them feel better. Below are some things you can do:

  1. Don’t be in a rush to cheer them up

We feel bad if a loved one is in despair, so our first instinct is to try to lift their spirits up. But saying things like “Everything will be all right” or “I’m sure you’ll find a job soon,” is not the way to go because it will seem as if you are telling them to brush aside the hurt, anger, and sadness that they are feeling inside and put on a happy face right away. Remind them that it’s okay to not be okay. 

  1. Instead, offer a listening ear. 

Your loved ones may be hesitant to open up because they think that others will look down on them or will regard them as a burden. Or they may feel that no one will understand what they are going through. So take the initiative and give them a call or send a short text. Say something as simple as “I know this is a rough time for you but I want you to know that if you need to talk, I am here for you.” Then if they take you up on the offer just quietly listen and validate their emotions (i.e. “That sounds hard.”) Do not offer advice unless they expressly ask for it. 

  1. Don’t blame.

One of the worst things to do is to blame the person for being unemployed. Bringing up past mistakes (“You got yourself fired because you did not work hard enough”) or labeling the person (“You really can’t keep a job”) will only make them feel much worse. This is a rough time and they need your support, not additional negativity. Even if you think your criticism is constructive, it will not help the current situation. 

  1. Don’t nag.

There is a difference between encouraging your friend or family member to be more active in searching for a job and putting undue additional pressure on them. Nagging them to submit resumes, follow-up applications, or hold practice interviews will only add stress to an already stressful time.  

  1. Instead, reward small accomplishments. 

Notice the positive steps your loved one is making and say things like “It’s good you were able to send out five applications today,” or “Congratulations on getting a call-back.” Also give praise if your friend does healthy activities not related to work, like taking up a new exercise regimen or embarking on a home improvement project. By focusing on the positives, you acknowledge their efforts as well as build their self-confidence.

  1. Offer distractions

Plan activities together that will help them temporarily get their minds off their job worries, although be mindful of their budget concerns. Take a walk around the block for some fresh air or exercise, or plan a virtual game night with friends. Just because they are unemployed does not mean they no longer deserves to rest or relax. 

Keep in mind that being unemployed is a hard time for your friend or family member. Don’t let stress, anxiety, or depression take over their life. Take the lead in supporting their emotional well-being and remind them to take care of their physical health too. Only then will they be strong and confident enough to move on to the next phase of their life. 


Does your friend or loved one need someone to speak to? MindNation psychologists are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7. Book a session now thru

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