Mental workload, also in health – Prevention

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In addition to domestic chores and raising children, many women manage the health and medical appointments of the whole family. A mental burden that risks degrading their own health.

maman tenant son bébé sur les genoux, avec son téléphone à l'oreille et son ordinateur devant ellewomen…and those of men” (Larousse editions).
Despite the title of her book, the specialist regrets that the mental load is still predominantly feminine. “With the exception of couples who are resolutely avant-garde, or inspired by foreign models, it is mainly on women that the constant anticipation falls of all the tasks inherent in the management of a family and very often carried out in parallel with their professional obligations.

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A concept popularized by a comic strip

However, it was not until 2017, with the success of the comic strip “Un autre regard. 2, Had to ask” (Emma, ​​editions I read), that the expression becomes popular. Does this mean that in 40 years, nothing has changed? “We are still inhabited by stereotypes: to women, the private sphere and reproduction, to men, public space and production “, answers Christine Castelain-Meunier, sociologist at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)**. In practice, women are responsible for organizing domestic tasks (meals, cleaning, washing clothes, etc.) and also, when they are mothers, for monitoring their children’s schooling. He is also often responsible for managing the family’s medical appointments…

Mothers in charge of the health of the children, the spouse…

This is what Sylvie, 53, who agreed to testify for Essentiel Santé Magazine, says. After the birth of his son, 13 years ago, everything is racing. And all the more so when, as a child, the child suffers from unexplained stomach aches and encounters difficulties in learning to read and write. “With the arrival of the little one, it made an additional charge. For my son, I made all the appointments with the pediatrician then with the dentist, the ophthalmologist, the ENT, the speech therapist, the psychomotor therapist, the orthoptist, the psychologist (from time to time), the osteopath , the gastroenterologist, the dermatologist…not to mention blood tests, X-rays, visits to the attending physician, vaccines…Never did my husband suggest that I make an appointment in my place”.

Combining family and professional constraints

In addition, Sylvie has to juggle real time constraints, because of her job. “I am an air hostess, with a professional schedule known on the 25th of the month, for the month after! “.
Sylvie is also responsible for setting up important annual consultations with her spouse. “As a patient at risk and over 50, he must have his prostate checked every year. However, two years ago, he took so long to take care of it that the prescription expired and he had a year without control! “. Awareness ensues. “Because of my husband’s lack of investment, I decided that if I managed to do my gynecological check-ups regularly, he could very well take care of his medical appointments himself”.

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Managing the health of loved ones to the detriment of one’s own

When Sylvie is asked how she was coping with her situation, she evokes anxiety and irritability, in particular when her husband forgot the appointments she had had so much trouble getting. Emotional hyperreactivity, major fatigue, disorders of sleep but also physical symptoms that can range from migraine to pain…when the mental load becomes too heavy, the consequences on physical and mental health vary from person to person. But they should not be minimized. ” The main alert lies in symptoms of abnormal intensity and duration sums up Dr. Aurélia Schneider.

The father needs to be more involved

Sylvie found within herself the strength to say stop… But not all women have the same resources. Strong measures are needed, judge Christine Castelain-Meunier. ” The father needs to get more involved and build his paternity from the youngest age of the child. In 2002 already, I had proposed that we extend paternity leave. It has just increased to 25 days (+3 days) but it is not enough. We must also ensure the education of boys”. For the future, the sociologist nevertheless wants to be optimistic. “Among 25-45 year olds, women are asserting themselves and men no longer want to be helpers but partners,” she concludes.

  • Victory N’Sonde
  • Photo credit: Getty Images

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