The impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on women’s mental health
Durban - Reports have shown that women are bearing the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Dr Tshidi Gule, CEO and founder of MediSpace Lifestyle Institute, women are facing increased child-care responsibilities, economic uncertainty in low, unequal paying jobs and in some cases are touched by gender-based violence.
Gule said this proves that they women be the hardest hit by mental health effects of the pandemic, with possibly more consequences to come.
“There is mounting evidence that the economic impact of the pandemic is affecting women more than men,” Gule said.
She said according to the South African National Income Dynamics Study (NICD) Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (CRAM), approximately 2.5 to three million people lost their jobs between February and April this year, with women being the most affected, accounting for approximately two million jobs lost.
Gule said women’s jobs are estimated to be 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s and, though women make up 39% of global employment, they account for 54% of overall job losses, mostly made up of the accommodation food services industries.
“This economic downturn where job losses are affecting women has been dubbed the ‘she-cession.’ There is also the uncertainty and mixed research around the risks of Covid-19 while pregnant, as well as the affects the virus has on newborns, toddlers and school-going children. Then of course there is concern around access to maternal health care,” Gule said.
She added that with so much going on, it’s no surprise that anxiety levels and depression would likely be on the rise for women and that immediate intervention is needed.
Supporting the mental health of women at this time involves:
- Getting back to work and safely – childcare is being highlighted by many as the most important need in getting women back to work. Taking on the responsibility of both caregiver and teacher is putting massive strain on women.
- Empowering women from marginalised communities, racialized groups, and those with disabilities.
- Putting an end to discrimination of women in the workplace. We cannot afford to lose skilled labour
- Putting in place measures to ensure the pandemic does not reverse decades of progress in women’s, children’s, and adolescent’s health
- Paying attention to gender-based differences that can be overlooked during a public health emergency
- Increasing the visibility of Women support groups
- Encouraging women to speak out if they are having difficulties coping and asking for help