by Sharon Kelly, LCSW, Behavioral Health Clinician, Atlantic Health System
We have all been adjusting to the reality that COVID is an infectious disease, but we now know that it is also a profound chronic stressor with serious implications for mental health. These stressors are impacting mental health for all of us, but women, and especially women of color, have been hit the hardest.
Recent studies have shown that one in ten women have had to quit a job due to a pandemic related reason and many mothers say that worry or stress related to coronavirus has affected their mental health.
This disruption in women’s work lives is also a serious challenge to family financial stability.
While women struggle to manage work, childcare, and elderly parents’ needs during COVID, women have had to change, postpone or leave jobs and often take leave without pay.
All of this has a cascading effect on sleep, appetite, concentration and general mood. These changes can be indicators of anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions. It is important that women take mental health seriously and consult with a medical and/or mental health professional as part of their selfcare plan.
What can you do?
- Acknowledge that this has happened to you. The events of the past year can be difficult to fully realize. The first step is simply to recognize what has happened and how it has affected your life. •
- Find someone to listen and validate. Consider using your EAP, mental health benefit, job coaching or spiritual advisor, for support and planning. Talking to your primary care provider is often the best first step. It may be necessary to be evaluated for medication and talk therapy with a mental health provider.
- Revamp your selfcare plan. Just like you had to adjust your childcare plan, you need to do the same for your own selfcare plan.
- Notice if you are having any thoughts of suicide or of not wanting to go on. It is most important to talk to someone about that right away. You can speak to a trusted loved one, your medical provider or call the local crisis hotline (973-540- 0100 for Morristown Crisis.)
- Remember that we will get through this. With consistent, small step we will all recover from this challenging time.
To learn more, please call the Atlantic Behavioral Health ACCESS Center at (888) 247-1400.