Monday, March 8, 2021

Why we’re choosing to challenge mental health for International Women’s Day

4 min read
Written by

Feel Therapeutics

Monday, March 8, 2021, is International Women’s Day (IWD). It is a global day that celebrates women from all walks of life and the amazing work they do, from just being a mum to leading names on the world’s political stage and everything in between. This year’s IWD theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’, and we can all agree that the past year has been challenging for everyone, especially women.

How COVID-19 has challenged women

The COVID-19 pandemic slowly ground the world to a halt during 2020. This impacted the global economy, changed the way we work, and saw families forced to be cooped up together 24/7. And in many cases, it’s women who have been the ones to step up and take on extra responsibilities, but also the ones who have been penalized.

The latest health tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that six in ten women (57%) say pandemic-related stress and worry has negatively impacted their mental health, as opposed to 44% of men.

When asked why women’s mental health has been affected more than men’s, Feel Therapeutics' Vice President of Clinical Operations, Sharon Kaplow, explained: “Firstly, women have been taken out of the workforce to take care of children at home. This is due, in part, to women generally making less money than men, which is yet another inequality they face, but also because they still take responsibility for the majority of the household and are seen as a family’s primary caregiver.

“Secondly, it hasn’t just been about childcare but supporting with teaching and keeping their children focused on homeschooling, which goes above and beyond normal parenting.”

A poll early in the pandemic in April 2020, by the KFF found that 81% of women with children under the age of 18 were more likely to stay at home instead of going to work or partaking in regular activities.

Additionally, women had been more affected by job losses because COVID-19 affected service-oriented sectors such as hospitality that predominantly employ more women.

Women are more likely to seek help for mental health issues

Although women’s mental health has suffered, the flip side is they are more likely to talk about, ask for, and seek out help than men.

A 2020 study [1] found that “typical” male patients were focused on gainful employment and committed to caring for their families. They were generally reluctant to discuss mental health issues because of their poor and negative views of mental health problems and mental health services.

This reinforced a 2015 survey by the Priory Group in the UK that revealed 40% of men won’t talk to anyone about their mental health, with some of the reasons cited as:

  • I’ve learned to deal with it (40%)
  • I don’t want to burden anyone (36%)
  • I’m too embarrassed (29%)
  • There’s a negative stigma about mental health (20%)
  • I don’t want to seem weak (16%)

Why it’s important to look after our mental health

There’s a lot to be said about the dark side of social media when it comes to mental health and people, young women especially, living for likes and feeling pressured to look and behave in certain ways.

However, there is a very positive side, as Sharon explained:

“There are many women-centered mental health apps and newsletters that have helped raise awareness of mental health issues and encourage, and empower women to take action for themselves.”

Man, or woman, looking after our mental health is just as important as looking after our physical health. This is because, as Sharon pointed out, our bodies and mind are connected, and if we don’t take the time to nourish and strengthen our mental health, our entire being is impacted and we cannot live the life we want to live

Your chance to improve your mental wellbeing

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, we are offering FREE ACCESS to our renowned online mental wellbeing program, Feel Relief, to 3 lucky women.

Visit our Instagram page to participate and enjoy the gift for yourself or nominate a woman you admire. We will announce the 3 lucky winners via our Instagram Stories on March 9.

We are also running a FREE 10-minute Facebook Live mental awareness and body scan session on March 8, at 12:30 pm EST, to leave you feeling more confident, balanced, and positive.

And finally …

An acknowledgment of some amazing women who have, and are, leading the way in the healthcare world.

In 2014, May-Britt Moser was one of a team of three who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their “discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain”.

Modern Healthcare has recently published their 2021 Top 25 Women Leaders in Healthcare which includes:

  • Dr. Tamarah Duperval-Brownlee, who leads Ascension’s diabetes prevention program
  • Dr. Joanne Smith, President and CEO of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, who as COVID-19 cases surged, reorganized operations to address new needs, including establishing a COVID care unit and spearheading new research into wearable devices that could monitor patient recovery
  • Dr. Priscilla Chan, co-founder and co-CEO, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative that last spring committed $25 million to the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, a global effort aimed at speeding up the development of treatments
  • Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group’s Group President, Angela Hwang, who oversaw much of the work that it took to get the company’s COVID-19 vaccine manufactured, tested, and to market quickly

The last word goes to Sharon and her International Women’s Day message:

“I’ve never been more proud to see the sisterhood of women raise their voices for equality and take the lead to bring change to the world.“


[1] Stiawa, M., Müller-Stierlin, A., Staiger, T. et al. Mental health professionals view about the impact of male gender for the treatment of men with depression — a qualitative study. BMC Psychiatry 20, 276 (2020).

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