The highest reputation an African woman has is that of being strong. I know this, you know this, and we all know this. It ultimately explains why we expect nothing less from them as they battle to live within the confines of this historical and traditional expectation. The struggles of life have nothing on them; how can it? After all they are…

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All hail the African woman. The one who works tirelessly to feed and clothe her nearest and dearest, without expecting anything in return. From her Husband to the Children, to exasperating family members, to demanding bosses/clients; she handles them all without flinching. After all that’s her superpower, it is just what she does.

Herein births the idea that African women do not suffer emotionally and mentally as much as others, since they are strong and better able to endure all things.

On the contrary, recent studies have shown that this idea is a myth, as it has been proven that African women are more likely to be distressed and experience mental illnesses at twice the rate of their male counterparts. Also, the very factors that are seen as the source of their strength are said to be the same things that cause them to be stressed. Factors such as: Family stress, Work Stress and Financial Stress. For the modern-day African woman, the effects of these factors have somewhat seem to quadruple in desperate attempts to achieve work-life balance.

In the frantic struggles to care for the home, be on top at work, sort out payment of bills, while still providing emotional and mental support to everyone else, there is hardly a moment for modern-day African women to breathe. Following this is the constant pressure not to act out. So they do nothing and say nothing and keep moving…until one day when they finally crack…

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And the rest of us are left wondering…

Now we see mental problems such as depression, anxiety, and Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to be prevalent with modern-day African women, although many of the women go undiagnosed. This certainly comes as effects of not only being stressed, but also being afraid and ashamed to speak up against the unhappiness they feel, for fear of lack of support and the probability of being isolated.
 
It is therefore clear that these pressures on African women as they go through life are intense, even in the most conventional societies. The customs and expectations of women’s roles in the family and at work can greatly exert stress on these women, leading to a moderate to severe mental illness.

With all that being said, it has become imperative for African women to make mental health a priority. Women should be reminded that self-care, whether physical or emotional, does not make them weak. Rather it makes them strong enough and present to be able to support loved ones in the long run.

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