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Impact of Covid-19 on Women's Mental Health

Since SARS-CoV-2 (More commonly known as Covid-19) swept the world in March, everyone has been restricted to the barriers of their homes. Consequently, this has led to the development of a major mental health crisis amongst the majority of world citizens. The constant horrific news of tragic deaths, of mounting cases and every worsening statistical data has led to trauma, hypertension and for some, it resembles Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

A study conducted in over 4 continents and 38 countries concluded that women are 3 times as likely as men to report suffering from significant mental health consequences (27% compared to 10%), including anxiety, loss of appetite, inability to sleep and trouble completing everyday tasks. Due to the fact that women are the social bearers of caregiving responsibilities, this has also heightened their stress and anxiety. In the United States of America, 55% of employed women are responsible for home labour or housework while only 18% of employed men are. Women also spend twice the time men do with their children. This adds to the emotional burden of their occupational workload as well as managing their children and their own diversified problems, especially now that children’s educational lives have become remote.

Economic stress also isn't uncommon. In the world’s largest economic powerhouse, the United States, 11.5 million women were laid off while a smaller 9 million men were. In discriminative regions like south asia and the middle east, women were nearly 6 times as likely to become unemployed than men. This caused heavy stress for those who live in low-income families as it continued to strip women of their limited freedom. In Lebanon, 49% of women reported loss of job while only 21% of men did. Burdening to this loss, a minimal percentage of women have access to facilities like healthcare while most men retain access to such necessities. For example, 8% of women in Palestine have access to healthcare while 67% of men do. This means women become helpless and are likely to get unemployed without the reassurance of essential commodities.

In communities with religious restraints, women become restricted to their household leading to mental stress and isolation in regards to attaining essential public facilities. This is when women are not allowed to leave their household without a male or any other numerous scenarios. Unfortunately, even the women that remain employed then become extremely vulnerable to the coronavirus. Especially in Asia, where factory labour comprises primarily of women.

Covid - 19 has certainly impacted the lives of women and men, but it is not unfair to say that women have been impacted to a larger extent than men. As social & religious restrictions as well as stereotypes continue to dominate society, women will unfortunately have to bear the brunt of increased caregiving responsibilities and consequently an extended mental burden.

~Nehal Singhal


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