It is stressful to not have job. But if you're young, it is also stressful to get one, and then keep it.
By Claudia Ocaranza Abascal
In May I graduated as a journalist from one of the most expensive private universities in Mexico. Now I had a bachelor's degree and was ready to find work. The previous month my biggest worries had been finishing my final exams and term papers. Now with my B.A. I thought it was the end of all troubles.
But something more stressful came my way. I had to find a job to start paying back my university loans.
I found one a few months ago and now what keeps me awake at night is worrying about how to perform well and keep my boss happy. Every year in Mexico 400,000 young and eager college graduates, like me, hit the streets with a B.A., looking for a job. Our teachers never tell us how low the starting salaries can be. Most young people have to keep living at home to make it. Cost of living in Mexico is up to par with living in Miami. A recent college graduate often starts earning between $350 a month to $1,200 a month, at the high end. In my graduating class of nine students, most are earning somewhere in the middle, and one friend is still unemployed.
Official unemployment in Mexico is only 4.8 percent, but 10 percent of those without a job are between 18 and 29 years old, according to the Mexican National Institute of Youth. This figure matches international statistics. "Young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and over 75 million youth worldwide are looking for work," according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Mexico's official unemployment rate is low compared to the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean, which have a more than 7 percent unemployment rate, according to the ILO. However, Mexico's low figure does not include Mexicans who are underemployed or working in the underground economy. For example, there are 12 million college graduates with bachelor's degrees in Mexico, and only half of them are working in their field of study. Most of those graduates, when faced with no jobs, have taken lower-ranking jobs in their fields.
The job situation wreaks havoc among Mexican youth. The lack of money, living with the parents and lowering financial expectations year after year can cause a lot of anxiety. Doctors warn that if the stress is not managed, it can produce self-destructive behavior and high-risk psychological conditions. Stress is a "reaction of the organism facing a threatening situation," according to the World Health Organization.
However, in Mexico, there is little trust in mental health practitioners. I have a friend who is often depressed but does not take medicine. Instead he takes baths immersed in lettuce leaves because someone told him it relaxes him.
He is one who thinks that to seek help for depression is a sign of weakness. No wonder suicide is the third cause of death among Mexican youth.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.