The Struggle With Women’s Mental Health Amidst A Pandemic
The topic of mental health is crucial for every society, especially now that nations are experiencing the coronavirus pandemic.
The outbreak of the virus has prompted various discussions on covid-19 and its overall impact on everyone, particularly women. Now more than ever, there is a greater need to nurture a vulnerable population, the majority of whom are women.
Women’s lives have been gravely impacted by the coronavirus and as the continued existence of the pandemic deepens, more women are discovering that the virus may have come with more difficulties than they initially envisaged.
While some women are worried about the unprecedented spread of the disease which has left them with little or no choice but to face it headlong, others are severely constrained due to the immediate shift from regular contact with the outside world to prolonged confinement.
There are reports evidencing a rise in anxiety and comparative data has further shown that presently, the economic and productive lives of women are more disproportionately affected than that of men.
Various classes of women are affected
At the beginning of the pandemic, the initial worry of most women was the fear of getting the virus and that their families could get it too. So far, this fear hasn’t diminished in any way.
More women are still nursing uncertainty over how to handle what life has become.
While households headed by women are exhibiting more panic due to the likelihood of a potential job loss or pay cut amidst a struggling economy, female entrepreneurs who depend on daily public interactions for business are still apprehensive over their financial needs in a time like this.
Women with underlying health issues are also not left out as they run a risk of experiencing deteriorating health condition due to isolation and the psychological effects of limited freedom.
There are also complaints from women who said they had been stuck at home for so long and were crumbling under the weight of family responsibilities and needed help.
For the elderly, reduced access to social support, families and physical community interactions have been sufficient reasons to feel deprived.
Apart from potential job loss and health issues, some women have been victims of domestic abuse from their spouses. Being stuck with an abusive spouse is an unfortunate reality for these women, the consequences of which could be severe forms of psychological and emotional trauma. To buttress further, there are reports showing an increase in domestic abuse cases over the last few months and more divorce petitions.
In other cases, not only were women experiencing coronavirus-induced physical isolation, some have struggled with mental isolation and withdrawal symptoms.
Women in vulnerable situations such as refugees, women with disabilities, women living in displacement camps and female prisoners are also not left out as they face a higher degree of risk of emotional and mental suppression.
Many pregnant women and new mothers still nurse fears over receiving medical treatment and delivering their children during a raging pandemic.
Female health care workers who constitute majority of the healthcare workforce are still witnessing an influx of coronavirus patients and possible fatigue due to heavy work demands and the heightened risk of getting infected.
In homes where family members contracted the virus or died from it, the women would have been devastated by its effects.
In times like this, even the most optimistic women have experienced doubts and uncertainty on how to deal with the psychological and financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
There is a tendency for those who were formerly in control of their health to crash when faced with pressure in their mental health space.
The last class of women are those who got the virus and have had to face stigmatization from neighbors, friends, family and their work place.
Daily reports on the rising numbers of coronavirus patients have not helped either as misinformation and uncertainty about the future still creates palpable fear.
Disruption of daily activities and finances are sufficient enough to cause emotional meltdown and high-stress levels, which can lead to the adoption of wrong coping strategies such as drinking, drug abuse, gambling and other vices as ways to seek comfort.
Increased care burden and a disproportionate work-life balance
With the closure of schools came increased child care responsibilities which may be affecting the overall productivity of women.
Some mothers who have had to home-school their children amidst incessant chores, online meetings, work deadlines, multi-tasking and juggling between the demands of family and work are recurrently experiencing physical exhaustion from being overworked. Otherwise, any form of work imbalance could place them at a higher risk of pay cuts or layoffs.
A sad fact is this: the psychological and mental health implications of covid-19 on women remains undeniable as it continues to be an existing problem.
Indeed, the pandemic has beamed more light on the long-standing inequality faced by women, especially due to its impact on their mental health.
To a large extent, the advancement of any society is largely dependent on its women.
For this reason, their needs and concerns should be treated with priority especially during a time like this.