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Mental Health in Womxn of Color and The Wage Gap

Written By: Charlotte Vengrin 

Edited by: Ela Jalil

Mental health is something that affects everyone-whether it be a personal struggle, or a struggle you help others through. While everyone is impacted by mental health, some people are more likely to struggle with mental illness due to factors over which they have no control.

Womxn, especially womxn of color, are greatly affected by wage gaps which have been proven to lead to increased stress rates, causing higher rates of mental illness (ReflectiveZines). Money and financial problems are the most common sources of stress for all people, according to CNBC, so when womxn are paid significantly less for doing the same work as their peers, they naturally are much more likely to be stressed about finances.

The wage gap not only causes mental health issues-it can also make it very difficult for womxn to seek therapy or a diagnosis. When mental illness is undiagnosed, it cannot be treated, and often times will get worse as time goes on. Even if it is diagnosed, due to being paid significantly less than their colleagues, many womxn will not be able to afford therapy or medication that would make their lives easier.

Beyond the wage gap, around 80% of 50 million people displaced due to traumatic incidents are womxn and children (ReflectiveZines). Trauma can often lead to many mental health problems, such as post traumatic stress disorder, various anxiety disorders, and depression (Mental Health Foundation). These disorders can have great impact on womxn’s lives, as studies have shown that those with anxiety disorders are at a higher risk for suicide (NIH).

All people who have mental illness face some stigma because of it, often due to society’s ideas of gender roles and presentations. When womxn act more “aggressively” due to their mental illness, they are viewed as more masculine. Due to society’s ideas of gender roles, this stigmatization can lead to womxn with children being told they are bad parents to their kids, or that they are emotionless (Workhealthlife). Neither of these things are necessarily true, and are incredibly damaging to the self esteem of womxn, especially those who already struggle with their self esteem.

But it doesn’t always have to be this way. There are many things that we can do as a society, as individuals in that society, to mitigate and eventually solve these problems. We can lobby our representatives to pass legislation working towards equal pay; we can work to help womxn struggling with mental health, not stigmatize them; and we can work to provide more resources to womxn who experience trauma.

Graphic by Shani Glassberg