For many women, taking a break from their careers, and nurturing their young ones in their families is a necessity. Unfortunately, women who are keen to return to the workforce after a break do face several challenges. Mental health is one of such major areas of concern for mothers returning to work, relaunching their careers. Data from the 2022 Harris Poll, commissioned by CVS Health, shows that more working mothers (42%) than the overall population (28%), their coworkers without children (25%) and even working fathers (35%) have been diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression. Additionally, working women are more likely to say (33%) that their mental health had become worse from the previous year.
Some of the challenges that returning mothers face that affect their mental health are; a sense of self-doubt, low confidence, and feeling out of place from the corporate culture because of their prolonged absence from work. Many of them might not have updated their skill sets. Several mothers also battle a feeling of guilt because they cannot give full-time attention to their children and family. Mental health issues can get aggravated during prolonged job searches and face possible rejections in interviews and career pivots, leading to professional identity crises.
Relaunching one’s career, though may seem to be challenging, is very much possible. Angelina Daisy, who relaunched her career as an Associate Software Engineer at Motivity after 14 years of career gap says, “Launching my career with a 14-year career gap was definitely not easy; being a mother, I had a whole different set of priorities. It was a major challenge but I knew that I had to start somewhere”. Angelina chose to bridge her career gap with an online Bootcamp offered by Odin School. She started her second innings at work after six months of rigorous upskilling.
Mental health issues can be countered by preparing for the big move. Like Angelina, upskilling oneself and becoming abreast with the latest tools and technologies is crucial. Self-care through a good diet, regular exercise, systematic sleep patterns and learning to say “no” to certain tasks is essential. It is also important to not be bogged down by the expectations that are loaded on them. Returning women need to understand and accept their limitations in terms of their time, effort and energy without guilt. Most women end up taking on too much responsibility and in the process, feel overwhelmed. They need to start creating and nurturing their support system much ahead of the planned relaunch. The support system can be in the form of family members, paid help or one of the many professional services such as daycares, community centres and others. Establishing a healthy work-life balance by setting up clear boundaries and priorities, and practicing effective time management techniques goes a long way in ensuring positive mental health.
Women can overcome insecurities by proactively networking with other women who have made successful comebacks. Upskilling themselves with the latest technologies also gives a confidence boost. Enrolling in Return to Work programs offered by different organizations can also help.
Despite all these efforts, if women still feel overwhelmed and unable to handle their stress levels, they should seek professional counselling and guidance. By nurturing their mental and physical well-being, women can enhance productivity, make better decisions, and foster positive relationships in the workplace.
Recognizing the intersection of mental health and career development, individuals can implement strategies to address mental health concerns and achieve their desired career goals.
“To all the women who are getting on their feet again, understand that it’s not going to be the same as when you left it. Having realistic expectations about people, the workplace and most importantly yourself is the key. It’s ok to be wrong, it’s ok to not know things. These don’t make you any less of a person. Instead of trying to overcompensate for things we can’t get a hang of, we need to be ready to accept the gaps in the knowledge about the issues and show the willingness to learn them at all times. Guilt about leaving family, and thoughts about being selfish are common, but keep in mind that an unhappy soul cannot make another person happy. In making the whole family sufficient we don’t have to end up feeling insufficient. Go with a head held high because you are just going there to take care of yourself which is the 1st step in taking care of others.” says renowned psychiatrist Dr. Swetha Gullapalli Aasra Clinic, Hyderabad.
Several companies these days are also making policy changes to encourage more women to return to the workforce. Friendly and empathetic policies such as mentorship, flexible working arrangements, expanded employee benefits, extended paternal leaves, to help them balance work and home life and address their mental health needs, and create a culture of inclusivity and belonging.
Ultimately, when women’s mental health is prioritized, it not only benefits the individual but also leads to stronger, more resilient teams and organizations. By forming a culture that values and supports women’s mental well-being, it is possible to collectively work towards a future where women thrive in their careers, experience personal fulfilment, and contribute their unique perspectives to create positive change in the world.
Shared By : Shruti Gaddam,