Unemployment has an adverse effect on health. This effect is still demonstrable when social class, poverty, age and pre-existing morbidity are adjusted for. Unemployed men and their families have increased mortality experience, particularly from suicide and lung cancer. Unemployed men also have a reduction in psychological well-being with a greater incidence of parasuicide, depression and anxiety. Unemployed men are more likely to use general practitioner and hospital services and receive more prescribed medicines. Smoking and alcohol consumption are often increased after the onset of unemployment. Women are less affected by enforced unemployment, but families are put at greater risk of physical illness, psychological stress and family breakdown. Maintaining financial security, providing proactive health care and retraining for re-employment can all reduce the impact of unemployment on health.