A new report reports that levels of stress, anxiety, worry, sadness and anger among women around the world have reached their highest levels in 10 years.
In one of the largest studies of women’s well-being, analytics firm Gallup and Hologic, Inc. For medical technology to survey more than 66,000 women in 122 countries around the world.
The study authors found that 43% of respondents said they experienced anxiety in 2021, 41% reported feeling stressed, 32% reported feeling sad, and 26% reported feeling angry.
Compared to 2020, anxiety, stress, and anger among women rose 3%, while sadness increased 6%, all record levels since the Gallup World Poll began tracking emotional health a decade ago.
“The lack of progress and, in some cases, backward momentum justify a larger wake-up call for world leaders to do more for women, whose well-being underpins the health of families, communities, societies and economies,” Hologic said. and CEO Steve MacMillan.
The study authors also found that the gender gap in emotional health between men and women has widened over the past year, with 39% of men reporting feeling anxious, 39% stressed, 26% sad, and 21% angry.
Mental health experts say the report shows how women have borne the emotional burden of the pandemic disproportionately as many families have faced job insecurity, precarious housing, and interruptions in medical and childcare services.
“A lot of this has to do with traditional roles in terms of caregiving and the responsibility to make sure children are fed and take care of disease – even in high-resource countries,” said Dr. Elizabeth Fittelson, director of the Women’s Program at Columbia. University Department of Psychiatry. “Many of these burdens still fall disproportionately on women as well as the need to work and play multiple roles.”
The pandemic has seen men and women leave their jobs in droves, but studies have shown that men have been quicker to return to the workforce.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that women are still declining by a net 100,000 jobs since February 2020 while men hold another 132,000 jobs as of July 2022, According to an analysis by the National Center for Women’s LawIt is a non-profit organization that advocates for women’s rights.
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A 2021 survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation It also found that many women left their jobs or took unpaid sick leave due to school or daycare closures.
Health experts say women are also disproportionately affected by rising rates of domestic violence, with the American Journal of Emergency Medicine finding cases increased by 25% to 33% globally.
“All of these things add up,” said Dr. Sophia Nouri, co-founder of the Women’s Mental Health Conference and a clinical instructor in the Yale Department of Psychiatry. “If you’re constantly exposed to stressful situations… your nervous system doesn’t have a chance to fall back, so you’re always in a fight-or-flight state.”
Health experts say that being exposed to intense stress for an extended period of time without access to the resources to deal with it can lead to toxic or chronic stress.
Studies show that chronic stress is linked to other psychological and physical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression and anxiety. According to Yale Medicine.
The best way to support women’s mental health, Vittelson said, is to support social safety nets and implement policies that improve access to health care systems, family leave, food security, and housing.
“Focusing on improving social support for basic needs would have a much larger intervention than any specific mental health intervention,” she said. But mental health treatment is still essential to managing the fallout from crises, toxic stress, and trauma.
While experts say women’s mental health is often underrecognized and understudied, they hope the Gallup-Hologic report will create more awareness.
“Women are the cornerstones of families, communities and the economy,” said Dr. Susan Harvey, vice president of global medical affairs at Hologic. “We need to pay attention to this and what it indicates.”
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