What is it about?

The research investigates how the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected women, particularly in terms of their mental health. It reveals that the pandemic led to a significant increase in mental health-associated conditions among women. One notable consequence was a sharp rise in substance use disorders related to mental health issues. Unfortunately, stigma and negative perceptions surrounding mental health and substance use often deter women from seeking help. Additionally, women faced a surge in interpersonal violence during the pandemic, which was closely linked to mental health challenges. For instance, severe intimate partner violence was found to be strongly correlated with increased substance use among women. Historically, gender biases in mental health research have influenced the way women's conditions are diagnosed and treated. Moreover, women working on the frontlines of healthcare and in STEM fields experienced a heightened workload and, consequently, greater mental health strain. The research offers strategies and recommendations to rectify these disparities. It focuses on reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues, increasing access to evidence-based treatment, and fostering inclusive work environments.

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Why is it important?

This research sheds light on the unequal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women's mental health. The pandemic brought about a surge in mental health challenges, specifically concerning substance use disorders, which disproportionately affected women. What makes this issue even more concerning is the enduring stigma and negative perceptions surrounding mental health conditions and substance use. These factors often deter women from seeking the help they need. The research also highlights the increased prevalence of interpersonal violence that women experienced during the pandemic. Notably, severe intimate partner violence was closely linked to higher levels of substance use among women, underscoring the intricate web of these issues. Furthermore, the study underscores the historical gender biases that have influenced mental health research and care, leading to disparities in diagnoses, treatment, and outcomes for women. This article's focus on the relationships between socioeconomic risks, mental health disorders, intimate partner violence, and substance use disorders in women provides valuable context for understanding these interconnected issues. The strategies and recommendations it offers, aimed at reducing stigma, improving access to evidence-based treatment, and creating inclusive workplaces, serve as a critical resource for addressing behavioral health disparities in women post-pandemic. In sum, this research provides essential insights into how we can better support women's mental health in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.


This research highlights the urgent need to address the detrimental impacts of COVID-19 on women's mental health and wellbeing. By investigating the prevalence of interpersonal violence that women experienced during the pandemic and the increased rates of conditions like substance use disorders, this reveals how women bore the brunt of pandemic stressors. By offering recommendations to reduce stigma and increase access to care, it provides a roadmap to equitably support women's behavioral health post-pandemic.

Karen Perham-Lippman
Eastern University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Gender Disparity in the Wake of the Pandemic: Examining the Increased Mental Health Risks of Substance Use Disorder and Interpersonal Violence for Women, Merits, December 2022, MDPI AG, DOI: 10.3390/merits2040031.
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