Women’s History Month: Providing Healing and Promoting Hope

Each year since 1987, we in the United States have recognized March as Women’s History Month. This year’s theme, chosen by the National Women’s History Alliance, is Providing Healing and Promoting Hope, honoring the frontline workers and caregivers who have worked tirelessly since the start of the global pandemic.

It is no secret the pandemic has women. While we are still studying how far and wide these impacts touch our everyday lives, it is impressive to see the amount of research coming out that focuses primarily on women and women’s health issues — especially when, historically, about their own health — or .

To provide healing and promote hope, we must first acknowledge the history of misdiagnosis and misconception in women’s health to understand the struggle in accessing quality care. At the bottom of this article, you will also find resources and women’s groups focused on health and wellness.

History of Care

Up until fairly recently, women’s health issues were dismissed in the realm of medicine — especially around mental health. As early as 1900 B.C., . It was, as Freud said, exclusively a female issue. (Hysteria also appeared in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until 1980.)

In 2018, reporter Ashley Fetters Maloy extensively covered the long history of physicians downplaying women’s health concerns in her article for the Atlantic. She cites a 2001 article in the , where research indicated that “women get prescribed less pain medication than men after identical procedures (controlling for body size), are less likely to be admitted to hospitals to receive stress tests when they complain of chest pain, and are significantly more likely than men to be ‘undertreated’ for pain by doctors.”

It’s important to note that women of color and the LGBTQIA+ community are facing the biggest barriers in accessing care and a validation of their experiences. In addition to about mental health that directly impacts the , women often minimize the severity of their symptoms, undermining the real pain they are going through. There is a perspective that women of color are strong and mental illness is a sign of weakness — a mindset that can further contribute to feelings of isolation if someone is diagnosed with a mental illness.

So where do we go from here? How can we have a more hopeful future? We’ve got some resources to share that may help turn this trend around in our personal lives and communities.

Resources to Support Women

Wellness & Educational Resources:

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers many free classes and support groups in communities across the country!

  • This directory of therapists and mental health professionals helps folks from all backgrounds find culturally competent care.

  • Coa (short for “coalesce”) is an online hub of therapists, emotional fitness classes, and community. “A place where connection and self-discovery are valued and accessible.”

  • An online community for women that offers accessible mental health services to young girls and women.

Practices in the RCCS:

  • In Practicing Curiosity, we are reminded to build awareness of our own judgments and bias. By counteracting our preconceived notions, we allow space to listen to the concerns surrounding women’s health issues. By valuing and validating women, we give space for growth and healing to take place. When health is approached from a person-centered view, we prioritize and include people to participate in their health journeys.