Young Australians with a history of depression in adolescence are at a disadvantage when it comes to employment, according to a new study by researchers at Deakin University.

With a Mental Health Research Grant from Australian Rotary Health, Professor Anthony LaMontagne and his colleagues found that a cohort of young Victorians who had experienced depression in adolescents were roughly 50% less likely to be employed by their late 20s, compared to those who did not experience depression.

Professor LaMontagne said the results of the study suggest a compounding of disadvantage in employment for young working Australians with a history of depression in their teenaged years.

“First, they are less likely to finish school and get employed in the first place,” Professor LaMontagne said.

“Second, when they do get employed, they are more likely than their peers to end up in jobs characterised by conditions that threaten their mental health.”

“Third, they are also more likely than their peers to be adversely affected by exposure to poor psychosocial working conditions, such as high job demands, low job control, and experiencing incivility or poor treatment at work.”

Although these findings paint quite a negative picture, Professor LaMontagne believes addressing these points could help improve the sustainability of employment for the many young Australians with a history of depression.

“This can be used to inform both the selection of jobs from the open employment market, as well as the design of jobs for people with a history of depression or other mental health problems, such as disability employment programs.”

Professor LaMontagne suggests that there could be strategies for improving employment prospects and sustainability for young people with a history of depression, such as:

  • Moderate levels of job demands
  • Adequate job control
  • Prevention of exposure to incivility and bullying at work

“On a societal level, reducing exposure to harmful job stressors by improving job quality, would also help to protect the mental health of people who have not experienced mental health problems, thus preventing avoidable mental illness.”

Professor LaMontagne was awarded this Mental Health Research Grant from 2017-2018.

 

Media contact: Jessica Cooper – (02) 8837 1900 or jessica@arh.org.au