Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Justin Berg


Previous literature suggests that certain job characteristics may influence a person's mental health in a negative way. Work is an important part of every American's life. It is how they make money and can be how they identify themselves. This thesis examines that relationship further with new data and variables and also looks at the effect that the 2007 to 2009 U.S. recession had on increasing poor mental health among individuals. Americans' jobs were influenced by this national recession in multiple ways. This thesis explores the relationship between the national economy and how job characteristics impact American's poor mental health.

Data from the 2006 (N=4510) and 2012 (N=1974) years of the General Social Survey were utilized, and OLS regression was used to test the hypotheses. The results indicate that the unemployed report more days of poor mental health, as well as a higher number of reported days of poor mental health after the recession. It was found that race, income, sex, education, age, marital status, and work stress also had a significant relationship with mental health. The implications of the results of this thesis suggest the need for more programs helping with the mental health of the unemployed. It also shows that the recession impacts a person's work life, which influences his or her mental health, several years after the recession is over