On an average, each mental health specialist gets 30-50 calls a day
No house help, loads of home and office work as well as managing the needs of the family have turned out to be big stressors for women, and account for 80 per cent of calls to helplines and mental health specialists during the ongoing national lockdown.
Women are finding it difficult to cope with home and office work without outside help and are unable to express it, leading to depressive episodes.
Rekha Reddy (name changed) works in a bank and her husband is a municipal corporation employee. With maids not allowed in her apartment building, she has to do the housework, wait for her husband to return from work and wash his clothes as he is exposed to containment and red zones, and also ensure that she maintains her office hours.
The burden of work has increased tremendously with no reprieve in sight. She has had suicidal thoughts and has been assigned to a consultant.
For many women life is a round of cooking three meals a day and snacks cleaning, doing their own office work and sleeping and there is nothing beyond that.
Hamza Banu (name changed) is a housewife and with the whole family at home for so many weeks, she feels exhausted all the time. Ninety per cent of her time is spent cooking and cleaning, with no time for her own hobbies and activities. The first few days saw a bit of help from family but as the lockdown kept getting extended, the entire burden fell on her.
Dr I. Bharat Reddy, consultant psychiatrist at Apollo Hospitals says that for many women “this is the first time in their lives that they have to manage homes without maids. This is one of the major concerns voiced by a majority of women who are finding themselves helpless and having to bear the load of managing homes. Others who cooked once in a while cannot take it as it is now an everyday affair. If the food is not good, there are arguments, fights, and further abuse, which adds to their mental trauma.”
Mental health specialists say that on an average each of them gets 30 to 50 calls a day. Most of them are routed through helplines and also reference of old patients when some of them are on the brink of a breakdown.
Dr Minhaj Nasirabadi, general secretary of the Indian Psychiatric Society, Telangana State Branch, said, “Excess of burden on women who are biologically more prone to depression is being noted. Since they internalise their emotions and do not express it, there are panic attacks, anxiety disorders and adjustment problems being noted.”
Post lockdown, due to the economic crunch, women are going to be further stressed as their home and relationship management will be crucial to bail families out of this crisis.