Why women need to put their mental equilibrium first

5th Feb 2018
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Women are far more prone to depression, anxiety, stress and other psychological disorders, and need to focus on their mental health.

Even in this day and age, the playing field isn’t equal for men and women in most spheres of society. When it comes to the workplace, the balance is heavily tilted in favour of men. Working Indian women have to constantly deal with gender bias and sexism, exploitation and harassment, lack of opportunities and unequal pay, and even age-related discrimination.

Women have been conditioned into believing that they’re the weaker sex and must silently bear with things as they stand because it is their destiny to do so. This has always and continues to lead to deep-rooted mental issues that affect every aspect of their lives.

Women are habitually not taken seriously, considered more suited to routine/menial jobs, and, so often, passed over for promotions. They are made to feel “uncertain” of their bodies, abilities, and intelligence. All this strips them of their confidence and makes them doubt themselves.

They are also frequently subjected to rude or unsavoury comments and less-than-respectful gazes or propositions from their male counterparts. Subjugation and objectification of women have been prevalent in society throughout history and is still a horribly invasive reality. The recent revelations of exploitation and misogyny in Hollywood are proof.

And then, so many workplaces don’t even have facilities that fully take into consideration a woman’s mental and physical challenges, be it motherhood or hormonal changes during their periods, menopause, or post-partum depression.

Too much on their plate

Working women are constantly multi-tasking – juggling work-related stresses, targets, deadlines, appraisals, and office politics along with the responsibilities of home, children, and societal dos and don’ts. When it all gets too much to handle, they fall prey to a host of mental illnesses.

Gender plays a critical role in regards to mental health. Women differ from men in their psychological makeup and are far more prone to depression, anxiety, stress and other psychological disorders.

What is startling is that having a career and financial independence should liberate women, but instead, according to a study, 38 percent of working women in India showed signs of psychiatric morbidity compared to only 26 percent of women who don’t work. Thankfully, 61 percent women today feel confident that having a child will not harm their career prospects. Studies also show that 53 percent women in India are likely to speak up against harassment. And yet, on the flip side, 36 percent of larger Indian companies and 25 percent of the multinationals do not have a complaints committee, which required by the law.

Sadly, mental health doesn’t get the same importance as physical health. Everyone takes a day off when suffering from a physical ailment. But how many of us tell our bosses that we need time off for a “mental concern”? It’s all because of the stigma attached to mental illnesses. It remains a taboo topic, swept under the carpet, lest it should affect our reputation, get in the way of our promotion, or end up getting us fired.

Work-life balance

Women must, however, understand that their mental health is of prime importance and strive for a work-life balance that is fruitful and rewarding, both mentally and emotionally.

If there is harassment or discrimination at work, women must speak out. Such regressive misdeeds can only be rooted out by a movement that is of the women, by the women, and for the women.

At the same time, if there is a serious mental disorder, women must not ignore it. With support from their families, they must seek professional help. Mental issues are not the monstrosities that they’re made out to be. Counselling, therapy, and medication can cure or, at least, alleviate mental concerns.

Indian women are used to sacrificing their own needs for those of the family. This must stop. Instead, women must actively pursue their personal dreams and goals, and learn to set aside a little bit of “me time”. As they say on flights: “If the oxygen mask deploys in case of an emergency, put your own mask on first before assisting a child or any other passenger.” Similarly, women need to put their own mental health and needs before those of others. They owe it to themselves.

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