Women and Mental Health:
Mental illnesses affect women and men differently — some disorders are more common in women, and some express themselves with different symptoms. Scientists are only now beginning to tease apart the contributions of various biological and psychosocial factors to mental health and mental illness in both women and men. In addition, researchers are currently studying the special problems of treatment for serious mental illness during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
The mental disorders affecting women include the following:
Depression: Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness.
Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.
Most likely, depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
Depressive illnesses are disorders of the brain. Brain-imaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have shown that the brains of people who have depression look different than those of people without depression. The parts of the brain involved in mood, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior appear different. But these images do not reveal why the depression has occurred. They also cannot be used to diagnose depression.
Some types of depression tend to run in families. However, depression can occur in people without family histories of depression too. Scientists are studying certain genes that may make some people more prone to depression. Some genetics research indicates that risk for depression results from the influence of several genes acting together with environmental or other factors. In addition, trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation may trigger a depressive episode. Other depressive episodes may occur with or without an obvious trigger.
There are several forms of depressive disorders.
Major depression,—severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. An episode can occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, a person has several episodes.
Persistent depressive disorder—depressed mood that lasts for at least 2 years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for 2 years.
Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances. They include:
· Psychotic depression, which occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false beliefs or a break with reality (delusions), or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations).
· Postpartum depression, which is much more serious than the "baby blues" that many women experience after giving birth, when hormonal and physical changes and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn can be overwhelming. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.
Bipolar Disorder, Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out daily tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.
Bipolar disorder often appears in the late teens or early adult years. At least half of all cases start before age 25.1 some people have their first symptoms during childhood, while others may develop symptoms late in life.
Bipolar disorder is not easy to spot when it starts. Some people suffer for years before they are properly diagnosed and treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout your life.
Signs and symptoms include:
· Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
· Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
· Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
· Irritability, restlessness
· Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
· Fatigue and decreased energy
· Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
· Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
· Overeating, or appetite loss
· Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
· Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that has affected people throughout history.
People with the disorder may hear voices other people don't hear. They may believe other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. This can terrify people with the illness and make them withdrawn or extremely agitated.
People with schizophrenia may not make sense when they talk. They may sit for hours without moving or talking. Sometimes people with schizophrenia seem perfectly fine until they talk about what they are really thinking.
Families and society are affected by schizophrenia too. Many people with schizophrenia have difficulty holding a job or caring for themselves, so they rely on others for help.
Treatment helps relieve many symptoms of schizophrenia, but most people who have the disorder cope with symptoms throughout their lives. However, many people with schizophrenia can lead rewarding and meaningful lives in their communities. Researchers are developing more effective medications and using new research tools to understand the causes of schizophrenia. In the years to come, this work may help prevent and better treat the illness.
Domestic violence can a be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control an intimate partner.
Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manuplate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation,religion or gender.It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
An emotional abuser:
* Calls you names, insults you or continually criticizes you.
* d oes not trust you and acts jealous or possessive.
* tries to isolate you from family or friends.
* monitors where you go, who you call and who you spend time with.
* does not want you to work.
* controls finances or refuses to share money.
* punishes you by withholding affection.
* expects you to ask permission.
* threatens to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets.
* humiliates you.
A physical abuser:
* damages property when angry ( throw objects, punch walls, kick doors, etc, )
* pushes, slaps, bites, kicks or chokes you.
* abandons you in dangerous or unfamiliar places.
* scares you by driving recklessly.
* uses a weapon to threaten or hurt you.
* forces you to leave your home.
* trap you in your home or keep you from leaving.
* prevents you from calling police or seeking medical attention.
* hurts your children.
* uses physical force in sexual situations.
If you recognize yourself in any of these situations, you may be in an abusive relationship.
Call 24- hour toll-free crisis line at 800-332-7385Or call 211 to connect with other services that can help.
EWO Some Of The Programs And SERVICES:
We're continually working hard to improve communities, to help people in need.
We do that by focusing on community-based efforts including education, awareness, and food aid. We want to make a difference.
If you're interested to see what we've been doing recently (especially if you want to help), check out our project list.
Ethiopian Woman's Organization wants to promote the economic social and legal rights of women and to that end, to assist them to secure full protection of their rights under constitution of the federal Democratic Republic of USA and other International human rights conventions.
The organization has helped many women find jobs, shelter, transportation, food, and emotional assistance. We also put our efforts into helping women who are new to America, and who are not adapted to the new culture. We help them learn English and the proper skills to adjust to a new environment.
We bring Ethiopian Women together in the community. Meetings are held once in a month and provide women an outlet to get to know each other and fellowship together. We also recognize member's birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrate holidays together. The organization is there to help Ethiopian women in all facets.
Ethiopian women's Organization is dedicated to helping Ethiopian women who have little support. We provide them with information, financial, and emotional support, when they otherwise would not find it.
Single Women’s with Children
Single-parent Families in Poverty
Jacqueline Kirby, M.S.
The Ohio State University
One of the most striking changes in family structure over the last twenty years has been the increase in single-parent families. In 1970, the number of single-parent families with children under the age of 18 was 3.8 million. By 1990, the number had more than doubled to 9.7 million. For the first time in history, children are more likely to reside in a single-parent family for reasons other than the death of a parent. One in four children are born to an unmarried mother, many of whom are teenagers. Another 40 percent of children under 18 will experience parental breakup.
Ninety percent of single-parent families are headed by females. Not surprisingly, single mothers with dependent children have the highest rate of poverty across all demographic groups (Olson & Banyard, 1993). Approximately 60 percent of U.S. children living in mother-only families are impoverished, compared with only 11 percent of two-parent families. The rate of poverty is even higher in African-American single-parent families, in which two out of every three children are poor.
Effects on Children
Past research has indicated that children from single-parent families are more likely to experience less healthy lives, on the average, than children from intact families. For instance, children growing up with only one parent are more likely to drop out of school, bear children out of wedlock, and have trouble keeping jobs as young adults. Other consequences include risks to psychological development, social behavior, and sex-role identification.
However, recent reviews criticize the methodology of many of these studies which support the "deviant" model of single-family structures. Confounding variables, such as income and social class, explain a large portion of the negative findings. When income is considered, substantially fewer differences arise between the intellectual development, academic achievement, and behavior of children in single-parent and two-parent families. Lack of income has been identified as the single most important factor in accounting for the differences in children from various family forms (Casion, 1982; Lindblad-Goldberg, 1989; Amato & Keith, 1991).
Mother-only families are more likely to be poor because of the lower earning capacity of women, inadequate public assistance and child care subsidies, and lack of enforced child support from nonresidential fathers. The median annual income for female-headed households with children under six years old is roughly one-fourth that of two-parent families. However, the number of children per family unit is generally comparable, approximately two per household.
Child Care Costs
One of the major expenditures of single parents is child care. On average, a poor mother spends 32 percent of her total weekly income on child care. This percentage nearly doubles when more than one child needs care. For this reason, 65 percent of single parents are turning to informal, unpaid arrangements--such as extended family or neighbors--as alternatives to formal day care (Schmottroth, 1994). Although this form of child care may allow the single parent's limited income to be distributed across a greater set of needs (i.e., housing, clothing, food), quality of care may be sacrificed.
Poor, single, working parents often are forced to choose between quality and flexibility of child care arrangements. Many jobs offering adequate pay require long and/or irregular hours. For many single parents, this may mean using less well-trained or experienced child care providers who are working long hours or supervising too many children.
Approximately 53 percent of single mothers are not in the work force because they are unable to find affordable, quality, child care. The majority of these mothers have no high school diploma, leaving them with few job opportunities or jobs that pay only the minimum wage. Parents with two or more children often have little money left after paying taxes and child care. As a result, single parents are forced to stay home and apply for public assistance to ensure adequate housing, food, and medical coverage for their children.
African-American single mothers and their children may experience the most adverse consequences of unemployment because their earnings constitute a greater percentage of their total family income. The reasons cited for this disparity are that African-American mothers are less likely to awarded child support payments, to receive child support payments, or to have a second wage earner living in the household (Grossman & Hayghe,1982). Long-term unemployment markedly increases the likelihood of poverty, receipt of public assistance, negative life changes, and exposure to chronic, stressful conditions, such as inadequate housing and poor neighborhoods.
Poverty's Effects on Parenting
Income loss appears to affect the well-being of children indirectly through negative impact on family relations and parenting. Single parents experience a variety of stressors related to poverty (i.e., financial, emotional, social). The link between economic stress and mental health has been documented in various studies. Single mothers must obtain sufficient money to cover the most basic needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing.
Financial strain is one of the strongest predictors of depression in single parents. Higher levels of depression is predictive of more punitive disciplinary practices and decreased parental nurturance, support, and satisfaction with the parenting role (McLoyd et al., 1994). The chronic strains of poverty combined with task overload significantly increases vulnerability to new life stressors. Poor single mothers often experience a cycle of hopelessness and despair which is detrimental to both themselves and their children.
Overcoming Difficult Circumstances
Despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges facing poor single parents, many families have increasingly demonstrated themselves to be viable, well-adjusted, alternative family forms (Lindbald-Goldberg, 1989). Many are able to function well and to promote education, resourcefulness, and responsibility in their children. Successful single parent families have adopted more adaptive functioning styles including: 1) more available personal resources, which enhances their coping effectiveness; 2) better family organization, which balances household responsibilities and decreases task overload; 3) a positive family concept, which values loyalty, home-centeredness, consideration, communication, and closeness; 4) an ability to highlight positive events and place less emphasis on negative aspects of stressful events; and 5) possessing less stress-producing, supportive social networks.
For example, adaptive mothers demonstrated strong personal authority by controlling their schedules to allow more time for relaxing activities (i.e., dating, going to the movies, talking with friends, etc.). Adaptive families possessed a sense of control over their own destiny and perceived themselves as effectively dealing with the outside world. In addition, well-functioning families had less frequent contact with relatives and experienced more reciprocity within these support systems than did the less adaptive families.
Implications for Family Life Educators
While encouraging marriage is important, recognizing that women are increasingly raising children alone and are at a disproportionate risk for poverty is equally important. For many, especially those in abusive relationships, marriage or remarriage is not a viable solution. Policies are needed which will work to ensure the future health and well-being of single parents and their children.
Many opportunities exist for Family Life Educators to address these issues through proactive programming. The University of Wisconsin's Center for Families Studies (1993) outlines various ways to: 1) promote strong, stable, two-parent families and improve the quality of marriage through premarital education programs which focus on self-assessment and teaching skills for strengthening relationships (i.e., effective communication); 2) provide parenting education in elementary schools, colleges, churches, and court-mandated classes for divorcing parents; 3) advocate child support enforcement, children's allowances, welfare reform, and quality child care; 4) encourage job training and financial management education for teenagers and young adults; 5) provide educational programming to employers about workplace reforms which allow single parents to balance the competing demands of work and family; 6) educate and train local leaders to positively influence family-related legislation.
Amato, P. R. (1993). "Children's adjustment to divorce: Theories, hypotheses, and empirical support." Journal of Marriage and the Family, 55, 23-58.
Bogenschneider, K., Kaplan, T., & Morgan, K. (1993). "Single parenthood and children's well-being." Wisconsin Family Impact Seminars Briefing Report.
Grossman, A. S., & Hayghe, H. (1982). "Labor force activity of women receiving child support or alimony." Monthly Labor Review, 105, 39-41.
Lindblad-Goldberg, M. (1989). "Successful minority single-parent families." In L. Combrink-Graham (Ed.) Children in family contexts. New York: Guildford.
McLoyd, V. C., Jayaratne, T. E., Ceballo, R., & Borquez, J. (1994). "Unemployment and work interruption among African American single mothers: Effects on parenting and adolescent socioemotional functioning." Child Development, 65,562-589.
Olson, S. L., & Banyard, V. (1993). "Stop the world so I can get off for a while: Sources of daily stress in the lives low-income single mothers of young children." Family Relations, 42, 50-56.
Schmittroth, L. (Ed.) (1994). Statistical record of children. Detroit: Gale Research Inc.
Ethiopian women's Organization For All Women
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