As part of our celebration of International Women’s Day, IFA Magazine is highlighting just some of the many issues facing women with regards to their lives and well being, as well as their finances.
In this article, Christine Husbands, managing director, RedArc summarises why she believes that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to more and more women experiencing problems as a result of the enormous stress they are under to juggle, home, family and work matters and why and how personalised support can help
There has recently been a lot of focus on supporting women going through the menopause and whilst this is of course important there are many more issues that women face uniquely that need to be recognised and supported.
In this article, I aim to share some of the insight we’ve gained from our Nurses having provided personalised support to over 20,000 women.
Women can go through several natural stages which can be very problematic for some women such as:
- Periods can be extremely painful as well as other common symptoms such as pre-menstrual depression and other long-term conditions such as endometriosis.
- Fertility can be the cause of significant stress as well as the impact of any treatment or IVF.
- Maternity is a worrying time for many women, with a huge impact on their health and physical capabilities during pregnancy.
- Post-Natal complications can be depression, fatigue is a problem as well as the all the new responsibilities and worries associated with parenting.
- Breast-feeding. Some women wish to continue to breast-feed after returning to work, this can be difficult to manage and a source of anxiety without flexibility and support.
- Peri-menopause is the time prior to the menopause which usually occurs mid-40s but can be much earlier. This stage can last for several years and the symptoms can be severe and unpredictable.
- Menopause is defined as the period of time when menstruation ceases and brings many, often difficult-to-manage symptoms which can last for several years, such as hot flushes, sleep difficulties and panic attacks.
Some women are fortunate and sail through all stages, whereas others can be severely impacted, in some cases making everyday life extremely difficult.
All of these factors are very personal and many women will wish to keep things to themselves. Fertility, maternity and post-natal issues can have many difficult outcomes having a significant long-term detrimental impact on a woman’s wellbeing and life priorities.
In our experience, women in ill health tend to be very concerned about family responsibilities, be that children, grandchildren or parents. They can struggle to cope with these responsibilities alongside a career, putting themselves under huge pressure to do both perfectly.
We have noticed a fall in the mental wellbeing of women since the pandemic, as caring responsibilities have frequently increased, the boundaries between home and work have often blurred, health and support services have become more difficult to access as well as worries about vulnerable family members. This is supported in a study by the Mental Health Foundation which reported in October 21 that more than one in five women in England has a common mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or self-harm.
With such a wide range of biological and non-biological factors and potential severities, not to mention the impacts of disease or injury, it is clear that for support to be effective, it must be tailored to the specific needs of the individual.
We notice that women tend to seek help earlier than men, who often wait until a crisis point is reached. However, as our support is tailored to the needs of each individual, there is little difference between the support we offer the different genders except in the area of therapies; where in our experience we have seen that women tend to be more open to complementary therapies.
Health issues rarely exist in isolation, there are often a wide range of “ripple effects” such as the impact on families, work, practical issues and emotional implications. Therefore an holistic approach is necessary, taking into account all the factors unique to each individual. This might include support to help children deal with the fact that Mum has lost her hair or help to find services to help an elderly parent whilst their daughter undergoes treatment.
Other practical services are also often required, but it’s important that needs are assessed by a professional, so often people don’t realise what is available or what would be most beneficial. In many cases counselling can help with the emotional impact of illness, however, many other services such as complementary therapies, practical help at home, second medical opinion can make a bigger difference.
Having access to an experienced professional such as a nurse can often be the hub of a very complex wheel, drawing on many years of experience and providing continuity through a relationship of trust. We often find that women find it so helpful to have a trusted confidante outside of their network of family and friends giving practical information as well as a supportive listening ear.
There are many issues that women uniquely face, regardless of whether they have children, caring responsibilities or careers and therefore personalised support is absolutely vital.