August 26 is Women’s Equality Day
In 1971, the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day to mark the passage of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. Not only is this an important step for our society, but equality can also positively affect mental health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), gender “determines the differential control and power men and women have over their social position, status and treatment in society, as well as their exposure to specific mental health risks.”
“Mental health is greatly affected by gender inequality,” states Jennifer Kugler, LPC, ACS, Senior Program Director, Behavioral Health Services, Acenda. “The resulting stress can, at times, lead to increased rates of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.”
Gender-based differences are real and this approach to mental illness involves identifying biological and social factors.
To reduce gender sensitivities, the following 4 steps could make a difference:
1. Increase awareness. The public needs to understand the reasons and consequences of gender inequality.
2. Reduce employment discrimination. Enforce laws against gender-based employment discrimination.
3. Funding. Increased support for trauma and rape survivors.
4. Stop categorizing. Reduce putting men and women into traditional gender-based roles.
“The issue of gender inequality is even more relevant now, as we are in the midst of the pandemic,” added Kugler. “During this time, reports have highlighted that home-schooling, childcare and household responsibilities have increased for women, even though more men are working remotely than before COVID-19. This situation can unbalance the scales of equality that we as a country have worked so hard to keep balanced.”
She added, “The pandemic has definitely heightened the importance of equal roles in the household. Communication at home is a start. First, discuss with your partner what you want, and then work backwards from there about how you make that happen.”
Though inequality is harmful for the mental health of women, and ignoring the reality can make women victims of emotional pain and physical violence. If you are experiencing emotional distress, counseling can help. Call our main number at 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632 x9500) for more information about our counseling and telehealth services.