Psychological distress more among rural women, finds Punjabi University research

Low education level, limited social network, healthcare and financial dependence among factors to blame

Psychological distress more among rural women, finds Punjabi University research

Representational photo.

Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 10

A Punjabi University research on psychological distress among rural women in Patiala has found 44 per cent of them high on psychological distress.

The paper “Psychological distress among rural women: Addressing the gaps in accessibility to mental health support services” published by Asst Professor, Dr Naina Sharma, and research assistant Amandeep Kaur has revealed many findings in Pramana, a research journal.

The study was undertaken as part of a project granted by Impress ICSSR to Women’s Studies Centre on the Punjabi University campus, headed by Dr Ritu Lehal, principal investigator of the project.

Dr Naina said under the project a study of cases of psychological distress among rural women, the reasons behind it and challenges preventing women from seeking mental health support was undertaken.

Five hundred women of three categories in the age group of 15 to 49 years, including school going, college going and married women, from six villages of the district were covered under study, Dr Naina added.

As per their findings, 44 per cent respondents were found high on psychological distress comprising somatic symptoms, anxiety, social dysfunction and severe depression, said Dr Naina.

As per the post-hoc test, married women exhibited significantly higher somatic symptoms, including fatigue and body aches, Dr Naina added. “Married women scored higher on anxiety and insomnia than the other two groups (school and college girls), but the difference is significant only with school girls,” Dr Naina added.

The team also held group discussions with women. “Focus group discussions with participants revealed many underlying issues, including low educational level, limited social network, lack of physical exercise, isolation, limited access to healthcare and financial dependence, along with ignorant attitude of family members. These are important factors for their poor mental health,” said the team.

“It is essential to value mental health especially depression that is characterised as one of the main mental diseases that affect women of the rural population. Our policies should shift their focus beyond maternal or reproductive health by incorporating mental and physical healthcare,” said Dr Naina.

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