The spate of suicides and riots in unemployment-stricken towns has recently brought to public attention a feature of joblessness which had not figured in the minds of those that thought that it would only have financial and probably minor social consequences. Since then, a flurry of interest has been spurred by the media; they regularly report on studies that show some association between unemployment and ill health, quite often, and not surprisingly, to make party political meal of a long-term problem that is bound to have implications for health provision in this country, at least over the next two decades. As psychiatrists we all know the central role played by regular, satisfying employment in the mental health of our patients, and I am sure many of us are affected by our total inability to secure adequate rehabilitation alternatives on which we are sure our patients' future, and that of their families, depend to a great extent. Some of us may also have been aware of the increased demand on mental health resources over the past few years and of the worrying tendency for admissions into psychiatric hospitals to be prolonged because of the time it takes for an ex-patient to re-enter the labour force.
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