May is Mental Health Awareness Month

How COVID-19 Has Disproportionately Affected the Mental Health of Women and BIPOC Workers

Caregiving, healthcare, Mental Health, Safety, Women on the Front Lines

Mental Health Scrabble Tiles Blog Post Image

If you are currently in crisis or know someone who is in crisis, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish. 

This May, we’re highlighting the importance of Mental Health Awareness. Though mental health should be a priority every month, and every day, it has never been more important since COVID-19 tragically hit our communities and affected every aspect of our lives. 

Despite the unfortunate and unwarranted stigma around mental health, many are speaking up after an incredibly stressful year, and more workers than ever are experiencing some form of anxiety and/or depression — both forms of mental illness. Emerging data show that during the pandemic that 4 in 10 adults reported having an anxiety or depression disorder compared to 1 in 10 in the first six months of 2019. In addition, children and teens in the U.S. have also experienced an increase in mental health issues due to social isolation, loneliness, and disruption of routines. 

Because most school-aged children and teens are at home attending remote school, the need for child care during the pandemic has increased, ultimately resulting in women experiencing more symptoms of anxiety and depression — 49% compared to 40% of men. Among women in the workplace, more than one in four are considering leaving their jobs or reducing their hours because of the lack of child care and an increase in household responsibilities. In fact, over 2M women left the workforce during the pandemic; a staggering number that will have repercussions for years to come.

At TIME’S UP, we advocate strongly for an investment in paid family leave and care infrastructure so women can get back to work and ensure that they’re paid a fair wage. We know that care can’t wait, in part because it’s affecting the mental health of women. Before COVID-19, women in the U.S. spent 37% more time on care work than their male counterparts. Now, due to the pandemic, close to two-thirds of mothers report being worried about balancing work and caregiving compared to three in ten other women. 

These statistics are a wake up call; a TIME’S UP survey shows an outsized impact of COVID-19 on women’s mental health. Women are on the front lines, and Latinas are facing the biggest mental health challenges. 

Because BIPOC communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, the increase in mental health disorders in those communities has been even worse. These communities are more likely to have a lack of universal broadband, and therefore no option for remote or virtual work. BIPOC workers who already experience low wages have lost their jobs in the past year more than their white counterparts. In addition, these communities are also less likely to have direct access to resources and higher quality services

With nearly 22 million workers in America experiencing job loss in the past year, the collective impact on our mental health has been significant. According to the American Psychological Association, losing a job is a trauma — one that can be detrimental to one’s mental and physical health. According to PEW Research Center, 7 in 10 unemployed workers experienced more symptoms of depression than normal. They also reported that unemployment fell more sharply in low-wage jobs, the highest among service industries, retail and small businesses. 

While there is only so much we can control amidst the pandemic, the fluctuating economy, and unpredictable employment, there are some things we can do for ourselves, our families and communities: 

If you are in crisis: 

  • Call 911
  • Call on behalf of yourself or others you know are in crisis: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish
  • Crisis Text Line: TEXT HOME to 741741, free, 24/7 with a crisis counselor
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or Online Chat Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Crisis Chat or text: 8388255
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: CALL or TEXT 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish)
  • The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116 – TTY
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness: Phone Number: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

Ways to take care of yourself:

  • CDC recommendations on taking care of yourself and coping with stress: Read more here. 
  • Stay connected with friends and family 
  • Get plenty of sleep 
  • Exercise and eat plentiful, balanced meals
  • Meditate 
  • Avoid substance use

Organizations and Resources: 

  • BetterHelpMaking professional counseling accessible, affordable, convenient – so anyone who struggles with life’s challenges can get help, anytime, anywhere.
  • TalkSpace – Talkspace is the most convenient and affordable way to connect with a licensed therapist — all from the privacy of your device. 
  • Therapy For Black Girls Find trusted, culturally competent therapists that know our feelings and can help navigate being a strong, black woman.
  • Black Men Heal provides a list of available African American therapists, plus resources on how to get 8 free therapy sessions. (The site acknowledges there will likely be a wait-list for no-cost services.) The organization says it has provided 600 free therapy sessions.
  • Alkeme Health provides curated mental health content specific for Black and African American users. The site says it “fuses digital and wellbeing to improve your life.” On its website, Alkeme Health provides guided meditations and “live labs” where users can register to learn about practical ways to improve personal well being.

Last but not least, participate in Mental Health Action Day on May 20th. TIME’S UP is proud to be a part of a coalition of nonprofits, brands and influential leaders coming together to launch the first-ever Mental Health Action Day that will drive our culture from awareness to action. This moment is meant to provide the tangible tools that will help us all take action for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for our community.