All round the world, the pandemic hit the reset button for how we do business and communicate. The reality check brought about by 2020’s swift and uncertain changes also left many people questioning various aspects of their lives. Some couples are discovering that settling for less-than-healthy relationships is no longer acceptable and are making active changes to improve their quality of life.
While the story is still being written about the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the effects of the virus can already be measured. Among women, the side effects are many — some with lasting personal and professional repercussions. The following are statistics on the primary ways COVID is affecting the wellbeing of women:
- Increased anxiety and stress: According to research conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than half of women overall (55%) report a negative impact on their mental health related to the coronavirus pandemic, compared to about four in ten men (38%) who report the same. While a larger share of women across age groups under age 65 report a negative impact on their mental health, the youngest group of men and women are most likely to report negative mental health impacts, compared to their older counterparts. Nearly seven in ten women ages 18 to 29 (69%) report a negative impact on their mental health.
In a study conducted by CARE International conducted of more than 10,000 women, 27% reported an increase in challenges associated with mental illness. Women especially point to skyrocketing unpaid care burdens as a source of this stress, in addition to worries about livelihoods, food, and health care. According to the study findings, women are also nearly twice as likely to report difficulty accessing quality health services.
- Increased joblessness: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 2.5 million women left the job market since the beginning of the pandemic (compared to 1.8 million men) as they take on more responsibilities of homeschooling and everyday parenting.
- Increased spousal abuse. According to the National Commission on COVID and Criminal Justice, the number of domestic violence incidents in the US increased by 8.1% after lockdown orders. These numbers are alarming, and anyone experiencing domestic violence should seek help.
Any of these reasons can lead to increased discord in a relationship — particularly if it was already challenged. Often it’s hard to admit the problems, let alone address them.
Women often minimize or suppress emotional issues and abuse out of the desire to keep up the appearance of being “okay,” to safeguard themselves or their children, or because they fear societal repercussions of speaking out.
If you or someone you love is experiencing increased hardships due to COVID-induced stressors, seek help from a skilled therapist or family counselor. If you or family members are experiencing emotional, financial, or physical abuse, 24/7 help is available through the local assistance programs offered through the YWCA.