Losing a job is always difficult. But to be suddenly and unexpectedly stripped of your livelihood in the middle of a global health and economic crisis creates a whole new level of stress.
As of April 28, 55 percent of the U.S. workforce have lost a job or income due to coronavirus, and 46 percent of those report financial struggles as a result, according to a health tracking poll by Kaiser Family Foundation. Of even more concern, the poll shows that 56 percent of those surveyed reported a decline in both mental and physical health due to worry and stress caused by the pandemic.
Psychologists have long known that the emotional toll of losing a job is akin to the death of a loved one, and people often grieve the loss, even if they were unhappy with their jobs. That makes sense because losing a job is like losing a part of yourself. Your identity is upended and your daily routines and financial security vanish. Add to that the mental, emotional and economic challenges COVID-19 has brought to the world and you’ve got a recipe for trauma.
If you count yourself among those who have lost a job or are suffering from emotional distress due to coronavirus, you don’t have to suffer alone. There are hundreds — maybe thousands — of people in grassroots, government, and nonprofit services all over the country who are pulling out all the stops to offer support and assistance to those who have suddenly found themselves stressed, afraid or jobless.
Here, we list a few of those resources:
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
This site connects the unemployed with their peers. What started as one New Jersey man’s quest to find a job has become a valuable tool for the unemployed all over the country. Founder John Fugazzie answers job search questions and provides career advice, tips for coping with the stress of job loss and moral support. Job seekers can join virtual meetings to network and connect, get tips and tools, motivation and support, and the skills needed to find work in the current job market, using the site's Jobs 411 information dashboard and directed COVID-19 support section.
Online Support Group for the Unemployed
SupportGroups.com serves the online community by connecting people in shared situations with one another, and in these times of isolation, is a great comfort for many. This simple and straightforward online support group is a great way to connect with other workers who have lost their jobs around the country.
The Crisis Text Line
If you find yourself struggling to cope with the loss of your job and financial resources, you can find immediate support by texting HOME to 741741 (USA) to interact with a live crisis counselor.
Disaster Distress Helpline
This service provides 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week, confidential crisis counseling to people affected and in distress as a result of the coronavirus pandemic by dialing 1-800-985-5990. The helpline will immediately connect callers to professionals who can offer support, advice and referrals. Or, reach out via text, also confidential and free, by texting TalkWithUs to 66746 to receive distress support and coping strategies.
7Cups of Tea COVID-19 Active Listener Support
This free therapy and mental health outreach group established a COVID-19-specific forum where you can reach out to trained support professionals or fellow peers for help handling isolation, depression, anxiety and job loss. They offer group or individual discussions and remote check-ins across the United States along with providing coping strategies and supplemental mental health resources.
This virtual crisis center provides immediate and confidential support via chat with certified professionals without the anxiety that can come from talking on the phone. Over 30% of people who use hotline resources hang up when a person answers. This service can also be utilized by those with limited phone/internet access and has a range of multilingual options.
Committed to providing credible information and resources to help people navigate this crisis, the National Alliance on Mental Illness offers an array of support systems through their number: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). They also offer a list of financial services, anxiety and depression treatment hotlines, community support and legal advocacy resources through their website to help those coping with job loss.
The Salvation Army
For more than a century, this charitable organization has provided services and resources, as well as emergency relief and financial assistance to communities, individuals and organizations in need around the world, and they are stepping up once again to help those most in need as a consequence of COVD-19. Their website contains an interactive map, so you can see what they’re up to in your state. Services include: meal distribution, assistance for pets and children, and emotional support hotlines for those struggling to cope with job loss and the isolation of quarantine.
A nationwide network of food banks, providing emergency food boxes and drive-thru food banks, and public assistance programs to those who are in financial crisis in the wake of the pandemic.
This food-centric grassroots project offers a national database of local food pantries, and a list of nonprofit and government-subsidized grocery resources.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal assistance program that provides food to eligible low-income individuals and families via debit card system card. The card can be used to purchase eligible food in authorized retail food stores.
You can find help with just about anything you need with this free resource. They will connect you to local agencies who can help you with food assistance, bill payments, housing expenses and crises.
PCs for People
Individuals and families below the poverty level or enrolled in an income-based government program can get computers, internet service and computer repair at drastically reduced costs. An especially handy service for those who need to hunt for work while quarantined.
While workers in some areas of the gig economy, like delivery services, are thriving, others, like those who drive for Lyft and Uber, are sinking. These resources are aimed at them.
Gig Workers Collective
Another grassroots effort, this group provides information on financial aid, rent assistance, food and medical care for restaurant industry employees who need it. Resources are organized by state.
Unemployment support and advice
Every state offers slightly different benefits and services, so check yours for local assistance programs. It’s important to go to your state’s website.
Next Steps After a Layoff or Furlough
LiveCareer’s Unemployment Resource Center provides insights on how to use a layoff to your advantage. Read articles that show you how to start your own business, reinvent your career and work your network.
General Help and Support
Get layoff help and support from LiveCareer’s career experts. We’ll show you how to explain gaps in your employment history, find a job in a down economy and navigate unemployment benefits.
Managing Your Finances
Managing your finances can become a bit tricky after a layoff. Our experts can guide you through it with tips for creating a budget, questions to ask about unemployment benefits and how to negotiate a buyout.