There is No Shame in Filing for Unemployment

Times are tough right now. The outbreak of COVID-19 is causing a surge in job losses. Layoffs, cut hours, or the risk of getting sick while on the job is at the forefront of people’s minds when even a month ago, was never given a thought.

Fortunate individuals can work from home, but others are not in positions that allow them to do so. Many companies have been forced to lay off their workforce until they can resume business regularly or are in the process of deciding what actions to take. While the service industry recently took a hit, other industries will soon be affected if they haven’t been already.

People now find themselves in an unnerving situation and either have to file for unemployment, or consider doing so to get by. Feelings of guilt or shame might come up throughout the process, whether you’ve filed for unemployment before or not. Either way, we need to learn to be a little kinder to ourselves.

The stigma of unemployment.

Intense social stigma and negative perceptions surround unemployment. Labels and stereotypes in the media have caused society to associate filing for unemployment with blame or laziness. This is simply not true and this stigma can cause additional stress for the person who is unemployed as well as their loved ones. Filing for unemployment in general, especially in these unique circumstances, is through no fault of your own.

You can’t control everything.                       

If COVID-19 has taught us anything this year, it’s that you cannot control everything. An extraordinary situation like the coronavirus was unforeseeable, along with its impact on the economy. Millions of workers now find themselves without a paycheck and are feeling the impact of coronavirus. Why should you be embarrassed over something that is completely out of your control?

Evaluate your narrative with the truth.

While it is easier said than done, try not to attach your employment status to your self-worth.

If you have to file for unemployment and are feeling ashamed, first acknowledge the feeling and then question it. Ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” “Where is this stemming from?” Think about it and write down what comes to mind. Next, try to look at your current situation objectively. Doing so will help put it into perspective. What would you tell your friend if they were in the same scenario? Chances are, you’d use a much more compassionate tone and viewpoint than you might toward yourself.

All in all, know that you are not alone. With kids to feed, bills to pay, and the ability to leave home for work becoming less common, filing for unemployment is the only solution for many affected by COVID-19. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a loved one for emotional support if you need it. It’s important to remember that you’re the only one who knows your situation best. Do what you need to do to help you and your family however need be.

If you are in a position where you don’t have to file for unemployment, please don’t shame others for doing so. These are unfamiliar times and we all need to support each other.

With COVID-19 influencing many places of employment, Minnesota Employment and Economic Development are taking steps to help make the process a bit simpler. For more information about COVID-19 and unemployment benefits in Minnesota, go to https://www.uimn.org/applicants/needtoknow/news-updates/covid-19.jsp

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