CHURCH leaders in Poole have highlighted links between unemployment and poor mental health following work with a Christian charity.

The Poole Vineyard Church and Poole Christian Fellowship have been running a job club in partnership with Christians Against Poverty.

They have revealed new research into the psychological impact of unemployment, seeing first hand how people with no jobs often experience feelings of despair and anxiety.

Poole job club manager Kate Cartwright said: “It’s very common for people to feel depressed and isolated and the longer that period of unemployment lasts, the more it affects someone’s self-esteem. On top of that, there’s the financial impact of being out of work and it is well known that financial stress is a major cause of poor mental health.”

More than 100 people took part in a survey to assess the links between unemployment and mental ill-health.

Four in ten people (41 per cent) experienced issues with sleeping; more than half (57 per cent) said they felt stressed; six in ten (61 per cent) claimed to suffer from anxiety; while 67 per cent admitted to suffering from depression.

The partnership’s findings were announced at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, which concludes tomorrow (SUN). Promoted by the Mental Health Foundation, the week aims to give a platform for conversation on an otherwise sensitive subject.

This year’s theme focused on the issue of relationships.

Ms Cartwright added: “Relationships are key to surviving a time of unemployment and staying positive, which is why we would recommend coming along to the CAP Job Club. It can be a lonely and boring time without work and our team here go all-out to combat that with support and good company.”

Only half of those attending the job club admitted to any kind of social life at the start of the eight-week course. But at the end of the course 91 per cent said their social life had improved.

Ms Cartwright said the research had also shown that 99 per cent of people would recommend the club with many finding work and staying in employment months and years later.

“During one-to-one coaching and group support, we’re keen to help people remember what they are good at and build

confidence,” Ms Cartwright added.

“Sometimes it takes someone else to recognise the talents we have and if you’ve seen a lot of rejection letters, you really need some encouragement.

“We’re also here to help people do a productive job search, get a great CV together and help to better appreciate what it’s like to be trying to select a good employee.”

Anyone wanting to attend the job club can call free on 0800 3280006.