This article first appeared here in June 09.
Seeking Help When Unemployed
Written By: Gilbert Goh
I am all in favour of the unemployed seeking professional counseling and career coaching support. Those who feel that they are depressed and feeling hopeless should seek out a coach or counselor for advice rather than suffering alone. They are many family service centers (FSC) out there that provides counseling support and it can be provided free if you explain your current financial situation to them. There is no shame to seek help and we should put away our Asian male ego here.
Unemployment is ranked as the top sixth most stressful events of one’s life with losing one’s spouse through death or a divorce occupying the top few spots according to a study done in University of Birmingham, 2001 (click here to read full article). Prolonged unemployment can unfortunately devastate a person’s self esteem and destroy a person’s desire to live on.
Adverse Effect Of Unemployment
Unemployment sucks out whatever optimism we have inside us and will often reduce one to a hopeless wreck. Unemployment also hits man harder especially if they are heads of household as it hurts their self esteem and man’s natural tendency to provide for the family. The same lousy feeling applies even if the spouse is also working.
That is why it is important for the unemployed to protect his emotion and mind well. He needs to fill them up with positive thinking through motivational books, mixing around with people who are positive and engaging in positive self talk. Going for regular exercises also helps to lift up one’s mood as it is found that when the body moves rapidly in motion, it sends oxygen and blood pumping through the system producing feel-good endorphins.
Unemployment particularly affects one’s finances which also directly impact man’s basic needs such as food and shelter. The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs chart (see above) revealed that food and shelter remain the most basic of man’s search for fulfillment . Once deprived of such basic needs for a long time, a man may lose his natural instinct to survive.
For the extreme cases, some take their own life as they face financial pressures from bankers for mortgages or bank loans taken when times are good. We have read how some high profiled executives took their own life as they lost millions in the current financial crisis. Some could not see how they can continue living on having lost so much of their hard earned money in stocks and shares. During good times, many also live their life chasing after materialism, often attaching much value to accumulating tangible stuff such as houses and cars. Much of their self worth is lost when they lose their material goods during the crisis. Unless they find new value and meaning in living again after such massive losses, many will feel that they have fail in their life and chose to end it all.
A banker friend of mine killed himself during the Sars period after one year of unemployment. I felt that suicide is most unnecessary and can be avoidable if the situation is managed properly. Again, this is easier say than done. I find that those with a higher adversity threshold tends to hold up better than those without. Frankly, this period of joblessness is agod to build up our resilience which is so lacking among our people nowadays due to long period of prosperity and comfort in our country.
Counselling For Everyone
I was fortunate to have a friend who works in the social service sector whom I met regularly during my unemployment period. Though our regular meetings could not be counted as professional counseling sessions, his unwavering support and encouragement for me have helped me immensely to turn around my life. It is also this friend who later recommended to work part time in his work place. I am eternally thankful to him for helping me out of my predicament. By talking it out, it is a form of emotional release for me often with the effect of loosening the knots within me.
I find that it is tough for guys here to seek counseling support for their problems. There is the pride issue and it is also shameful for one to open up to another person about their problem. However, having attended some counseling sessions on my own before, I find that counseling is very theraupatic and can bring instant mental relief for one who is deeply troubled. AS the counselor is a stranger to me, I could also have the freedom to share everything without feeling that he will judge me as some friends may do. Most counselors will also walk through the options with me and regular sessions of at least once fortnightly is recommended. There are occasions that I actually looked forward to seeing my counselor after a particularly bad spell.
Women have a lesser issue when it comes to seeking counseling support. Maybe they have less of an ego problem than men and will not hesitate to seek whatever help they can get from their own sister friends. Man has a big ego problem when it comes to seeking help and being vulnerable. It is timely that more men come forward to speak about their problems openly so that others may know that they are not alone and that seeking help is not an unmanly thing to do.
Family Service Centre
Professional counseling is provided from the following family service centers located all around Singapore:
Care Corner Family Service Center (FSC)
Fei Yue Family Service Center
Tg Pagar Family Service Center
Marine Parade Family Service center
Singapore Buddhist Lodge Vision Family Service Center
Rotary Family Service Center
Bear in mind that as family service centers work with people that stay within their precinct do contact the staff first before going down for their services. You don’t want to make a wasted trip when you go to the wrong FSC nearest you. Some also see clients by appointment so do contact them first.
Most FSCs are also located within HDB neighbourhood area and often housed in void decks. However, the interior is nice and warm giving one a feeling of calmness and peace. Most counseling rooms are decently renovated with cushions, paintings and sofas to provide clients with the right ambivience for sharing one’s problem. You will be surprised how fast one hour passed by when you have the right environment to offload your problem.
Most FSCs also charge a token of $20 to $50 per session but fees may be waived if the person has financial difficulty. Sessions are carried out by trained counselors and discreetly with the client’s privacy well guarded.
Of course if you have the means, you can consult a professional counselor who charges anything from $100 – $200 per session of one hour each. You have the comfort of privacy and comfort not found yet in FSCs as they still deal with the masses.
Unfortunately, counselling has yet to take off fully here perhaps due to the stigma attached to people seeking help. It is largely due to the ego of most people here especially men who shy away from seeking help as it stabs at their manhood and I-am-alright mentality. I hope that people in distress then here will not hesistate to seek assistance either from their friends who show care or their loved ones. We should find solace and support from the ones closest to us if possible.
Personally, a session with a counsellor can bring forth much relief and peace of mind. Often, we do not really need solutions from the counselor but just the opportunity to offload what is on our heart. The human mind is built in such a way that if we keep on accumulating issues and do not discharge them we will explode one day. So take a chance and see a counselor. It is not so frightening after all and certainly not a shameful thing to do.
Financial counseling can also be sought at Credit Counselling Center whereby trained officers will try to assist clients who have problem repaying credit loans. They will write in to the respective financial institutions to try to find a way to resolve the crisis. Though I have not seek advice from the center, I have heard from friends that they are effective and reliable. Again, if the person is unwilling to seek help, the resources will go to waste. So pay them a visit and bring with you all the bank loan documents so that they can assist you readily. It is never too late to seek help.
When we break down after a prolonged period of depression the problem may turn chronic requiring medical intervention and sometimes hospitalisation. This is so unnecessary as Singapore has several hundreds of certified counsellors with many willingly doing it for free. Transitioning has a team of voluntary qualified counsellors all ready to assist you. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a counsellor anytime any day. We are here to help you.