The Mental Health Crisis Affecting Women and How to Ask for Help

By McKenzie Schwark
Feature Writer

How are you doing, really?

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and at Ladyboss Midwest, we want to acknowledge how difficult this year has been for our mental health.

The pandemic has created a perfect storm for a mental health crisis. Increased anxiety and stress combined with social isolation and a profound, collective grief, have created a crisis within a crisis. As we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear this last year has had a major effect on our wellbeing. And it’s hitting women the hardest. 

Women and mental health during COVID

It’s been an isolating year for everyone, but women are reporting higher numbers of stress and depression than their male peers. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated feelings of fear and isolation, while making resources and support harder to come by. And if that wasn’t enough, women have taken on more caregiving responsibilities and duties. 

83% of women, as compared to 36% of men, are reporting increased feelings of depression over the last year. More women than men have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and have taken on additional responsibilities like childcare, increased household duties, and caregiving for aging parents or loved ones in the high risk category.

Many women have also lost their support network. Loneliness is a major contributor to feelings of depression or hopelessness, and over the last year many weren’t able to socialize or spend much time outside of their homes. On top of losing social networks, women also lost access to other forms of support. 2.5 million women have left the workforce since the start of the pandemic, and many who lost their jobs also lost access to health insurance. More women than men report being unable to afford their health insurance, which is a major barrier to receiving mental health help.  

Signs you might need help

Mental health crises look different for everyone, but there are some signs you might need to seek out help. The National Alliance on Mental Health lists these as some of the key symptoms of a mental health crisis:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Difficulties relating to or understanding others
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • And more 

How to ask for help when you need it

As more and more people become vaccinated, and the weather is finally looking up, it feels like we’re emerging from a really dark time. But it’s totally normal to not feel so normal, and if you’re experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression you’re certainly not alone. You can look through your health insurance’s directory or primary physician’s office to find a mental health professional in your area. Many online therapy services have emerged this year, and are often low cost and don’t require insurance. 

There is no denying this has been a tough time, and it’s expected that we’ll all be feeling it in some way or another. Women deserve better access to mental health resources, and we hope that after this year we can work together to make that happen. But the first step is asking for help.