08 Apr CHRIS 180 Experts Lead Conversation about Women’s Mental Health
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic there has been an increase in mental health issues like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder found in women. According to a study at the University of Chicago Medicine, “29% of women reported symptoms of depression and anxiety — nearly twice the estimated pre-pandemic rates. One in six women screened positive for symptoms of post-traumatic stress. (firework.com) ”
A panel of CHRIS 180 mental health experts including Markie Nickens, LMSW, Shanessa Crook, M.S., CMHC, Cindy Song, LMSW and Chief People Officer Queie Barnett, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, discussed women’s mental health and the effects of COVID-19 during the season three premiere of Lunchtime Live this past March.
A Spotlight on Women’s Mental Health
Women face many challenges as well as social and economic factors that put women at a greater risk of poor mental health. Some of those factors are related to the pressure and gender expectations of women, bias and stigma, gender discrimination, domestic violence and unequal access to resources. Women’s place in society and intersectionality also exacerbates mental health risk and plays an important role in women receiving care.
“It would be important for me to highlight the social positionality and intersectionality of identities between all women, so it is different to have an identity not only as a woman but as a person of color, or as an immigrant or someone who is disabled or an abled-bodied,” said CHRIS 180 therapist, Cindy Song, LMSW.
Ways to Support Women
Whether you are an individual, family member or are a part of a larger organization—you can advocate for women and their mental health. It is important to increase awareness about the challenges women face in all areas of life through training, open communication and creating inclusive spaces . Leaders of organizations must create cultural change surrounding pay equality and maternity care flexibility.
“I really try to work with my clients, friends and family members as well to identify the signs of burn out and implement those self-soothing or coping skills during the workday,” said Markie Nickens, LMSW.
Strengthening Your Mental Health
Have an accountability partner: In times of stress, having someone who can hold you accountable in improving your mental health and well-being can be very effective in helping lift your spirits and reach self-care goals.
Create separate workspaces: Remote work has become increasingly popular. It gives employees more time to recharge and to be productive. But with this change also comes negative consequences. Many people struggle to maintain work-life balance. Creating separate workspaces in your home can help you create better boundaries that will positively impact your mental health.
Practice self-care: Self-care has been proven to help reduce anxiety, improve relationships and self-esteem, manage stress and improve sleep quality. During this season of uncertainty with the pandemic, self-care can serve as a great coping skill.
Advocate for yourself: Self-advocacy is an important skill to utilize in your personal and professional life. Practicing self-advocacy consistently will lead to better mental health as a result of being able to clearly communicate your needs.
For more mental health resources, tips and coping strategies visit our Lunchtime Live playlist on CHRIS 180’s YouTube page.
Briyanna Ferguson is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at CHRIS 180. She can be reached at [email protected].