Common Causes of Mental Health Problems in Women 417
Other kinds of stress happen less often, but can also
contribute to mental health problems:
Loss and death
When a woman loses someone or something important—a
loved one, her work, her home, or a close friendship—she
may feel overwhelmed with grief. This can also happen if she
becomes ill or develops a disability.
Grieving is a natural response that helps a person adjust to
loss and death. But if a woman faces many losses at once, or if
she already has a lot of daily stress, she may begin to develop
mental health problems. This can also happen if a woman is
unable to grieve in traditional ways—for example, if she has
been forced to move to a new community where her traditions
are not practiced.
Changes in a woman’s life and community
In many parts of the world, communities are being forced to
change rapidly—because of changes in the economy or because
of political conflict. Many of these changes require families and
communities to alter their entire way of life. For example:
My name is Edhina. When the war started,
soldiers came and forced the men in our village
to fight. Some of the women were raped. We fled
into the mountains, but it was hard to find food.
Now we live as refugees in a camp just across
the border. We usually have enough to eat, but
many people are sick. The camp is crowded with
strangers. Every day I wonder—will I ever see
my home again?
My name is Jurema. Every year our land produced less.
We had to borrow money to buy seeds, and even tried
buying fertilizer, but we could never grow enough to
pay back the bank. We were finally forced to leave
our land. Now we live in a shack at the edge of the
city. Every morning when I wake up, I listen for the
birds that had always greeted the morning. But then
I remember—there are no birds here. There is only
another day of scrubbing other people’s floors.
When families and communities break apart, or when life
changes so much that old ways of coping do not work any
more, people may begin to have mental health problems.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012