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Mohammad Ashraf Malik

Research Scholar, Department of psychology, AMU, Aligarh.



The present paper reviews the available evidence on the mental health status of working women in India. In this paper an attempts made to know the causes and consequences of mental health of women, especially those who are employed. Due to the excessive burden of work and house holding activities most of the women lost their mental equilibrium and becomes a vulnerable to psychological disorders like stress, depression etc. According to National Population Policy (2000).Women should have access to comprehensive, affordable and quality health care. There is a greater prevalence of the more “common” type of disorders such as depression, phobias and anxiety among women compared to men across all socio-economic groups and diverse societies.1 Independent studies on mental depression across the world show that women are twice as likely as men to suffer from clinical depression.2 In some studies, it has been also found that depression was more prevalent among working-class than middle class women living in London. So, this paper is an exhaustive effort to highlight some issues related to the mental health of women in India.3

Keywords: Mental- Health, Women, Employed, India


Concept of Mental Health

Mental health may be defined as our cognitive or emotional wellbeing. Simply, mentally health means a person who is free from any kind mental disturbance. In broader terms mental health refers to how we think, feel and behave. Mental health also includes a person's ability to enjoy life to attain a balance between life activities and to achieve

Psychological resilience. In other words mental health can be defined as the reflection of equilibrium between the individual and environment, constituting an integral part of overall health.4 The concept of mental health can be better understood by the following given definition

According to Medical dictionary, mental health is "emotional, behavioural, and social maturity or normality; the absence of a mental or behavioral disorder; a state of psychological wellbeing in which one has achieved a satisfactory integration of one’s instinctual drives acceptable to both oneself and one’s social milieu; an appropriate balance of love, work, and leisure pursuits".

According to WHO (World Health Organization), mental health is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". WHO stresses that mental health "is not just the absence of mental disorder


Literature Review on Mental Health of Working Women in India

 It is well said by somebody that “Health is Wealth”. Health is really a precious ornament. How much curable we remain towards it, we can preserve it better. Health should be given special focus because, if we lost wealth we lost nothing, but if we lost health we lost everything. The main objective of the present paper is to highlight the issues related to the mental health of working women by reviewing literature.

In India the women health is burning issue. Women health in India can be examined in terms of multiple indicators, which vary by geography, socioeconomic standing and culture.5 Presently, women in India are facing different kinds of multitude of health problems, which ultimately affect the aggregate economy’s output.

Addressing the gender, class or ethnic disparities that exist in healthcare and improving the health outcomes can contribute to economic gain through the creation of quality human capital and increased levels of savings and investment.6

 India has been considered as middle income country by the United Nations (2011). Similarly the world economic forum also termed India one of the worst country in terms of gender inequality as compared to other countries and is ranked as 132 out of 187 in terms of gender inequality, the findings from the World Economic Forum indicate that India is one of the worst countries in the world in terms of gender inequality and socially distressful situations by the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report.7

The working women's mental health is more susceptible because of the low tendency to avoid distressful situations, which is predictable in the working situation in comparison to the non-working women; they spend a quantity as well as quality time with the family member, which helps them to remain mentally healthy. Some existential and experiential realm is attributed to human bonding and it does positively help the individuals maintain their mental health. The findings of this study corroborate the earlier observations8, 9, 10 has reported correlation between security-insecurity and adjustment problems. She argued these working women playa dual role in the family and the workplace, they experience a sustained stress to cope in both the conditions and hence their mental well-being gets affected.8 Irrespective of the fact that they are the earning member of the family, the mental distress of women remains unacknowledged within families,11 especially 'Indian families do underestimate mental distress levels in women's.12 Also, social discipline and expected role seemingly induces an anxiety in them.

Women’s in all kinds of occupations are suffering from the problems of mental health. Most of the studies reported that working women fails to cope with an over burden of work and are involved in role conflicts.13 In a study reported that nurses may suffer from workload, role ambiguity, problems in interpersonal relationships and death and dying concerns, as emotional distress, burnouts and psychological morbidity. Similar study found in a small scale industry on working women. They reported that those women who works for six to eight hours a day shows higher prevalence of pain and discomfort than that the control group of housewives and the pain experienced in workingwomen was more enduring.14

In the study of women construction workers revealed often long 10-12 hours of work in a noisy, dusty environment full of pollutants like tar and glass were suffering from respiratory, eye and skin disorders as well as noise induced hearing loss were common and further it was argued that more than half the women (56%) reported of injuries that led to work loss and about three-fourths of the women reported gendered stressors like sex discrimination and balancing work and family demands, apart from ‘general ‘stressors like excessive workload and under utilization of skills.15 Similar study argued that one should take cognizance of women’s ‘lived experiences’ while addressing their mental health problems. He reported that marriage, multiple work burdens, violence, membership in marginalized groups, are stressors that women are (more) subject to, that lead to somatisation and depression.12


Conclusion and Suggestions

In the light of above documentary evidence it has been revealed that the mental health conditions of working women are worse and they are suffering from different types mental disorders like stress, depression, anxiety, etc. Due to presence of such type of mental disturbances they could not balance their work and could not stand over the family demands. This will create a lot of problems in balancing their social and psychological adjustment. Now the need of our is to give a special focus toward the deteriorating mental health of working women by societies in general and Govt, in particular. There should be some rules and laws of working hours in both private and Govt. industries, so that women can work according to the schedule and can avoid the overloading of work. Not only this but some mental hospital should be opened in each and every district of the country, so that they can function as the source of relief for those who are suffering and awareness programmes should be launched in context of the coping with stress, anxiety and other mental problems. Counseling centres, women’s therapy centers should be open where from they can seek the needful help and emotional support.


1.        Sonpar & Kapur “Non-Conventional Indicators of Gender Disparities Under Structural Reforms”, Paper Presented at the Workshop on Gender Discrimination Under Structural Reform, New Delhi: Institute for Social Studies Trust.(1999)

2.        Davar, B. V. Mental Health of Women: A Feminist Agenda, New Delhi: Sage Publications. (1998).

3.        Brown,G.W. & Harris, T.O.Social origins of depression: A study of psychiatric disorder in women. London: Tavistock.(1978).

4.        World Health Organization (WHO). Strengthening mental health promotion. Geneva: World Health Organization.(2001).

5.        Chatterjee, A. &Paily.V.P. "Achieving Millenium Development Goals 4 and 5 in India." BJOG.(2011); 118. 47-53.

6.        Ariana, Proochista, Naveed,A.An Introduction to the Human Development Capability Approach: Freedom and Agency. London: Earthscan.(2009);228-245

7.        United Nations."Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All." Human Development Report.(2011)

8.        Mukhopadhyay, S.Working status and health: a study of middle class Calcutta women. The Indian Journal of Social Work.(1997); 57 (2): 327-336.

9.        Sinha, B.  Anxiety among working and non-working women. Prachi Journal of Psyco-Cultural Dimensions. (1997);13 (2): 105-180.

10.     Padma, M.S.  Research in correlations of achievement: a trend report. In M.B. Buch (Ed.) Fourth Survey of Educational Research New Delhi, NCERT(1991);109-133.

11.     Isaac, M.K., & Kapur, R.L.  A cost-effectiveness analysis of three different methods of psychiatric case findings in the general population. British Journal of Psychiatry, (1980);137: 540-546

12.     Davar, B.V. mental health of Indian women: A feminist agenda. New Delhi: Sage Publications.(1999)

13.     Parikh, P., Taukari, A. &Bhattacharya, T;Occupational stress and coping among nurses. Journal of Health Management (Special Issue on Occupational health of women),  (2004);6(2): 15-127.

14.     Desai, R., &Gaur, R.  Occupational stress of women in small-scale industry. Jou 141rnal of Health Management (Special Issue on Occupational health of women) (2004); 6(2):146

15.     Lakhani, R.Occupational health of women construction workers in theunorganized sector. Journal of Health Management (Special Issue on Occupational health of women), (2004);6(2): 187-200.