Patterns of Stress, Social Support, and Mental Health among Nigerian Women
David A. Oluwole, Ayo T. Hammed, John I. Awaebe
The study examined the relationships between stress, social support and work/family conflict on Nigerian women’s mental health. The sample consisted of two hundred working women from the teaching and health care professions. To achieve the objective of the study six hypotheses were formulated and tested. The data were analyzed using the student t-test statistics, Pearson product moment and multiple correlation coefficients. The findings of the study revealed that there is significant difference between young and old women in the level of stress experienced. There is also a significant difference between junior and senior staff in the social support experienced between single and married women. However, no significant difference existed between single and married women based on their experience of work/family conflict. Based on these findings, it was recommended, among others, that direct efforts specific to primary prevention of mental disorders should be made, that employers of labour should establish family supportive and friendly interventions to assist women in their ability to cope with competing demands, and that women should be integrated into social network and high levels of social support as this will neutralize and control situations of stress and work/family conflict problems in Nigeria.
Key words: women, mental health, stress, social support, Nigeria
Mental health can be described as the ability to respond to many varied experiences of life with flexibility and a sense of purpose. It is the state of balance between the individual and the surrounding world. It could be seen as a state of harmony between oneself and others, a coexistence between the realities of the self and that of other people and that of the environment. The mentally healthy person is the person who is free form internal conflict, who is not at “war” with herself. The mentally healthy person knows himself; this is to say that, he understands his needs, problems and goals,. He has good self-control, i.e., he is able to balance rationality and emotionality. The notion of Nigerian women’s mental health, therefore, implies Nigerian women’s ability to respond to the many varied experiences of life with flexibility and a sense of purpose. In other words, Nigerian women’s mental health is their ability to maintain a balance between themselves, other people and the environment.
The effort to have and maintain a balanced mental health by the Nigerian women is thwarted by the presence of stress resulting from traumatic and rapid changes of life events. Stress, which is a natural reaction that occurs when humans encounter a threatening physical or emotional situation, can have so many harmful health effects on women, especially continuous unresolved stress. Prolonged stress is known to over-activate many of the body’s organs and eventually leads to physical and mental exhaustion in women.
There arises also a strain on Nigerian women’s mental health as they struggle to balance the multiple competing demands on their time and energy. This strain or conflict often occurs as the Nigerian women employees try to meet the needs of their spouses, children, elderly parents, community, and employers. This situation is referred to as work-family conflict. This situation can lead to fatigue and other mental health problems in the Nigeria women. Studies have shown that a good social support network can help to ameliorate most of these mental health effects of these stressors. Social support is “the sum of the social, emotional, and instrumental exchanges with which the individual is involved having the subjective consequences that an individual sees him/herself as an object of continuing value in the eye of significant others.” Studies have revealed that high levels of social support may be an important prognostic factor in recovery from mental health problems suffered by women.
Studies demonstrate that the variables of stress, social support and work-family conflict can interactively affect the mental well-being of Nigerian women (Morakinyo, 1990; Obazele, Adamu, Amanchi, and Olotu, 1993; Onyekuba, 1996; Feyisetan, 2006; Okonweze, 2005; Olashore, 1999). For instance, positive stress can enhance mental well-being, while negative stress can diminish the quality of life, cause injury to mental health resulting in ill health of women. On the other hand, prolonged work-family conflict can lead to depression, anxiety and burnout in women. The effects of work-family conflict on the family are poor parenting, interference with family relationship and increase reliance on social and counseling services. The provision of high levels of social support network is believed to ameliorate the negative effects of stress and work-family conflict on women’s mental health(Cheung, 1995; Dona & Berry, 1994; Sasao & Chun, 1994).
The term “stress” has evolved so much that it can be used to refer to both the source of some event and the reaction to it. Cannon (1929) first described the “stress-response” theory by near the turn of the last century. The stress response theory has been the topic of extensive theoretical and empirical research over the intervening years. The World Health Organization (WHO) has described stress as a “worldwide epidemic”. Scientifically, stress refers to the broad domain concerned with how individual adjust to their environments. It became a common term in the performance/efficiency literature during the 1960s. Selye (1955) also suggested that “General Adaptation Syndrome” manifest as Alarm, Reaction, short term, acute, response patterns. Stress is a person’s adaptive response to a stimulus that places excessive psychological and physical demands on that person. Stress is a person’s response to an inappropriate level of pressure. John Mason, however, contradicts the argument for Hans Selye’s Non-specific response principle when he demonstrated that endocrine system has many specific response patterns to different stressors in stereotypic manner (Akinboye et al., 2002).
Concerning the causes of stress most studies have pointed to the fact that the incidence of stress is due to overwork (Laver, 1999). In the United States, workplace stress has doubled since 1985. Approximately one third of all Americans considered job related stress as their greatest source of stress. According to a worldwide poll 82 percent of respondents reported that work related pressure cause them to feel stress on a regular basis and almost one third of respondents experience stress everyday (Krohe, 1999). Graham (1998) stated that “poor management is the major cause of stress”. Graham (1998) argued further that “stress is not the inability to cope with excessive workloads and the unreasonable demands of incompetent and bullying managers; stress is a consequence of the employer’s failure to provide a safe system of work as required by UK Health and safety at work Act 1974. Blaming the sufferer of stress for suffering stress is an admission of failure to fulfill this obligation of duty of care”. Afolabi and Imhonde (2002) identified organizational causes of stress as organizational and extra-organizational stressor, group and individual stressors. While Akinboye et al., (2002) identified the following as causes of stress in workplace: new management technique, office policies, long work hours, redundancies, bullying, and harassment, the National Women’s Health Information Centre NWHI (2003) identified traumatic accident and death or emergency situation as causes of stress. It can also be a side effect of a serious illness or disease. The center also associated stress wit h daily life hassles, the workplace, and family responsibilities.
Cooper and Davidson (1987) contended that the stress response is best understood through an ecological approach, which examines the whole spectrum of psychological, sociological and physiological events that make stimulus demands on an individual. According to this ecological model, psychological stressor emanate from both work and home domains. The work domain includes physical demands, task demands, work role demands, interpersonal demands, and organizational structure/culture. The home demands include family structure/relationships, dependant care demands, neighborhood and community, and financial concerns. The individual’s response to those stressors is moderated by the individuals genetics “psychological programme” (i.e. propensity to react) as well as personality factors, sex and various other variables related to social support, control and coping (Cooper et al., 1987). Bryan (1997) suggested that a shared immunological defect may link many disorders, whereas other studies suggest that the inappropriateness of the stress response in dealing with modern threats-which are largely psychological rather than physical is to blame (U.K. Health and Safety Executive, 1998). Studies have revealed also that stress is the most common health problem attributed to long work hours and the incidence of stress due to overwork is growing (Lehmkuhl, 1999; Dehaas, 1998). The United Nations realized the magnitude of this problem as it has labeled job related stress as “the 20th century disease” (Krohe, 1999). Lehhmkuhl (1999) expressed the fear that “one of the major concerns of long work hours is the incidence of stress, which has many negative direct consequences, as well as causing other illnesses.” For W.H.O. stress is a “worldwide epidemic” because stress has recently been observed to be associated with 90% of visits to physicians (Akinboye et al., 2002). A bullying climate where threat, coercion and fear substitute for non-existent management skills has also been implicated (UK Health and Safety Executive, 1998). Akinboye et al., (2002) perceived stress as a person’s perception by arguing that the way a person interprets and appraises the stressful event determines the effects of the stress.
It is important to note here that the state of “stressed arousal” can be positive or negative. Certain amounts of stress are required for motivation, creativity and facing challenges. Stress becomes negative when it is prolonged for extended period of time. Dehaas (1998) argued that, “it is not the short – term effects of continual unresolved stress that are harmful but the effects of continual unresolved stress.” He affirmed that prolonged stress over activates many of the body’s organs and eventually leads to physical and mental exhaustion. This process decreases the effectiveness of the immune system and strains the body, which may result in a variety of illnesses (Krohe, 1997). Chishohn (1996) identified lack of concentration, memory loss and errors in judgment as the initial symptoms of stress whereas stress that persists for a longer period of time is implicated for cardiovascular diseases, asthma, migraines (Gwyther, 1999), gastrointestinal problems, substance abuse, hypertension and mental disorders such as depression and burnout (Krohe, 1999). NWHIC (2003) however, argued that both short and long-term stress can have effects on our bodies. NWHIC stated that stress triggers changes in our bodies and makes us more likely to get sick of it and it can also make the problems we already have to be worse.
In addition to these, Onah (1993) stated that stress is responsible for many accidents, mental breakdowns, unhappiness, poor performance at work and school, as well as crime among Nigerians. The above enumerations represent the havoc effects. Akinboye et al. (2002) argued that though stress plays important role on both women’s physical and mental health, it is an unhealthy and ineffective response pattern to change.
Highlighting the importance of social support in the mental health of women, New York Reuters Health (2005) reported that “feeling loved and supported by family and friends appear to protect women, but not men, from major depression,” Kendler (2005) noted that it is a deep human need to be loved and cared for. Our mental health will not do well if we are in an environment where our needs are not filled.
Different researchers have differently defined social support. For example, Hagihara, Tarumi, and Miller (1998) defined social support as “the provision and receipt of tangible and intangible goals, services, and benefits (such as encouragement and reassurance) In the context of informational relationships (e.g., family, friends, co-worker and boss).” It has been argued that social support is too complex to be limited to a single theoretical concept (Vanx, 1988), as a result comprehensive models that incorporate the major elements of most current conceptualization of social support have been developed (Cutronor and Russell, 1987). The following six dimension of social support were proposed for a comprehensive understanding of social support (Alankee, Johnson, Hunt, 1998).
Social support has also been defined as the physical and emotional comfort given to us by our family, friend, coworker and others. It is knowing that we are part of a community of people who love and care for us, valued and think well of us. It is the “sum of the social emotional and instrumental exchanges with which the individual is involved having the subjective consequence that an individual sees him or herself an object of continuing valued in the eyes of significant other” (Gordy, 1996). Social support means the sum of all the relationships that make a person feel as if he/she matters to the people who matter to him. Social support can come in many different forms. Experts who study human relationship have identified three main types of social support.
Alarie (1996), concluded by saying that these forms of social support are meant to have a positive impact on women’s health but they can also have negative consequences
Many studies have demonstrated that being integrated into social networks and receiving high levels of social support are important for mental health and well being particularly for women (Kessler and Mclead, 1995; Alarie, 1996). The number of social contacts, both close and not too close, is related to higher levels of well-being. Within relationships, different types of support from different sources may benefit health-such as emotional, practical and informational support (House and Kalin, 1995). Stansfeld and Sprooton (2002); Alarie (1996) in their different studies observed that, on the other hand, close relationship may be stressful as well as stress relieving, and high levels of negative interaction within relationship increase the risk of mental ill health.
Two pathways for the influence of social support on health have been postulated. These are the “direct” effects and “buffering” effects. The direct pathway implies that levels of social support and social contact act to improve levels of well being, or enhanced self-appraisal and self-esteem, positively influencing mental health (Cohen, 1985), while the buffering hypothesis implies that social support only influences health in the context of exposure to acute or chronic stressor (Alloway and Bebbington, 1987). In this situation, persons exposed to stressors are helped, either in reappraising the threat implicated in the stressor, or in coping with the consequence of the stressor or through emotional, informational or material support.
Studies have equally demonstrated that lack of social support has been etiologically linked to common mental disorder. Stansfeld and Strooton (2002) argued that it is possible that differing patterns of support might contribute to the explanation of differences between ethnic groups in rates of mental disorder. For example, it has been suggested that the fact that south Asian people in the UK show relatively low rates of common mental disorder, in spite of the high levels of social disadvantage faced by ethnic minority groups, is a consequence of the extended social support networks characteristic of Asian culture, which may be protective of mental health (Cochrane and Bal, 1989, Halpern, 1993). Others have, however, criticized the stereotyped basis of this theory (Sashidaran, 1993). Close relationships are not always beneficial to health, as there may be scope for conflict as well as support (Stansfeld and Sprooton, 2002). Analyses of immigrant mortality statistics show that mortality rates from suicide are higher among young women of south Asian origin, and that this is particularly the case for young women age 15 to 24 where the rate is two to three times the national average (Soni, Bulusu and Balajaran, 1990). Soni and Balajaran (1992) concluded that, “it is possible that intense close relationships in these families coupled with intergenerational cultural conflicts might increase suicide risk in these young women.
Some recent studies had also proved that the presence of a socially supportive person reduces cardiovascular reactivity in socially threatening situation (Quigley, 2003). It was noted that males and females had different preferred source of social support. Brondolo, argued that men may benefit more than women from coworker support because close social relationships may sometimes be a source of stress or demand for women. Kendler (2005) in a study observed that women are” often socialized to develop their sense of self from their relationships or the quality of their relationship” .As a result when women feel that their relationships are poor, this has enormous influence on their emotional well being. He further noted that support from family and spouse appears to mean somewhat more to women that men.
Green (1993) argued that there is clear causal direction in the relationship between social support and health, that it is possible that good social support promotes psychological well being which in turn promotes good health. He however, admitted that it is possible that those with good health find psychological adaptation easier, which then attracts a wider support .In another study, it has been postulated that high levels of social support were associated with faster and more extensive recovery of function after a stroke, and that social support may be an important prognostic factor in recovery (Gordly, 1996). Pines, Aronson and Kafry (1981) observed that social support has been well documented as a highly effective intervention for coping with burnout. Hansen, Isacsson and Janzen (1990), Lought and Shank (1996), argued that the relationship between physical health and social support for women is complex and not well established. Therefore, due to conflicting result in various studies, Pender (1996) called for further investigation of how social support impacts health promoting lifestyles of women.
Aaronson (1989) found that perceived and received support contributes to a pregnant woman sustaining good health practice and recommended health behaviours. In a study investigating health status and social support of the older women, the result showed that the perception of positive health status and social support do not decline with age (Lough and Shank, 1996). Social support was viewed as beneficial in both smoking cessation programmes and decreasing symptoms related to premenstrual syndrome (Hansen, Isacsson, and Janzon, 1990; Morse, 1997). A study that compares the health practices of rural women with those of a large metropolitan area, it was found that rural women adopted more health practices overall than their urban counterparts. Younger women in both groups exhibited more awareness of health promotion.
Work and Family conflict
In the past decade or so, the Nigerian family has undergone significant structural and functional changes that have not been accompanied by equally dramatic shifts in corporate policies. Even though the situation where the fathers used to work and the mother stays at home to care for the home and children has changed, most workplaces are still guided by traditional company polices that were fashionable when that pattern was typical. Such arrangements are no doubt clearly distant from the reality of today’s diverse workplace that is increasingly populated with mothers, single parents, and dual- career couples. The potential for conflict and stress increases as most Nigerian women struggle with the demand of balancing paid work and home responsibilities.
Work family conflict has been defined as a “mutual incompatibility between the demands of the work role and the demand of the family role” (Parasuraman and Greenhaus, 1997; Thomas and Ganster, 1995). One of the first studies documenting the extent of work family conflict was Michigan Quality of Employment survey (Quinn & Staines, 1997). Quinne and Staines found that 38% of men and 43% of women who were married and who had jobs and children reported that job and family life conflicted “somewhat” or “a lot”.
Workplace characteristics can also contribute to higher levels of work- family conflict. Researchers have found that the number of hours worked per week, the amount and frequency of overtime required, an inflexible work schedule, unsupportive supervisor, and an in hospitable organizational culture for balancing work and family all increase the likelihood that women employees will experience conflict between their work and family role (Galinsky, Bond, and Friedman, 1996, Greenhaus and Beutell, 1985; Thompson, Beauvais and Lyness, 1999; Frone, Yardley, and Markel, 1997). Baruch and Barnett (1997), for example, found that women who had multiple life roles (e.g., mother, wife, employee) were less depressed and had higher self-esteem than women who were more satisfied in their marriages and jobs compared to women and men who were not married, unemployed, or childless. Baruch and Barnett (1987), however, argued that it is the quality of role rather than the quantity of roles that matters. That is, there is a positive association between multiple roles and good mental health when a woman likes her job and likes her home life.
Although not every woman who attempts to balance multiple work and non-work roles experiences conflict, a substantial number of women employees do. Researchers have found that trying to balance work and family roles can result in job and family distress, work family conflict, job and life dissatisfaction, depression, anxiety, anger/hostility, and perception of a lower quality of life (Duxbury and Higgnnis, 1991; Frone, Rusell, and Cooper, 1992, Thomas and Granster, 1995). There are also unhealthy consequences for the organization including absenteeism, tardiness and loss of talented employees (Kossek, 1998). Additionally negative mental and physical health outcomes have been related to high level of work-family conflict and work to family conflict (Barnett and Rivers, 1996, Boles et at, 1997; Frone 2002; Frone et at 1997). These findings support the scarcity theory of role accumulation which suggests that the sum of human energy is fixed and that adding more roles creates a greater likelihood of overload, conflict, strain and other negative consequences for well being (Goode, 1960) and also supported by role theory (Katz and Kalm, 1978). However, there is a growing body of research that has found evidence of positive spillover, both from work to home and from home to work. The result of some of these studies support the enhancement hypothesis, which proposes that an individual supply of energy is abundant and expandable (Marks, 1977).
Based on the articulated objectives of the study the following three hypotheses will be tested at 0.05 levels of significance:
1.There will be no significant difference between young and old women in their level of stress.
2. There will be no significant difference in the effects of social support between single and married women.
3. There will be no significant difference in the social between single and married women based on their of work/family conflict experience
The research design for this study is the descriptive survey design. This design is the major procedure employed in realizing the research objectives of the study since it does not manipulate anything in the specified aspect of the real world for study (Akinboye & Akinboye, 1998).
The sample of the study consists of two hundred (200) randomly selected professional female workers from teaching, civil service and health care professions. The respondents’ age ranged between 22 and 56. The sample was selected from major towns in Oyo state of Nigeria. They have diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds.
Section A solicited for bio-demographic information of the respondents. Sections B to Section E present the items, which the respondent is expected to respond to. There are twenty-five items structured in five-likert format with response options ranging from strongly agree, agree, not sure, disagree to strongly disagree. Section B consists of six items, which gather information to the extent to which respondent feel stressed from certain life experiences. The minimum and maximum marks of this section are 5 and 30 respectively. Section C was designed for respondents to tick the extent to which their work conflict with their family responsibilities. The Section contains seven items with minimum and maximum marks of 7 and 35. Section D consists of five items which gather information on the level of social support network of respondents. The minimum and maximum marks of this section are 5 and 25 respectively. The reliability of the instrument was determined by using test-retest method of establishing reliability. The instrument has interval test-retest reliability co-efficient of 0.7385. The interval was two weeks and fifty (50) subjects were used.
The statistical methods used for analyzing the data for this study was the student t-test. The student t-test is used to test for differences existing between two means in the three hypotheses formulated.
Results and Discussion
It was hypothesized that there will be no significant difference between young (40yrs and below) and old (41yrs and above) women in their levels of stress. The hypothesis was tested using the t – test statistical method. The result on Table 1 shows that the calculated t value of 2.0 is greater than the t critical value of 1.96 at 0.05 level of significance. Based on this finding the hypothesis is therefore rejected. This reveals that there is significant difference in the experience of stress of women based on age.
Table 1. T-Test Summary Table Showing the Difference Between Young (40yrs and below) and Old (41yrs and above) Women in Their Levels of Stress.
Calculate t value
Critical t value
Young women 40
years and below
Old women 41
years and above
*Significant at 0.05 level
The second hypothesis of the study states that there will be no significant difference in the effects of social support between single and married women. The results on Table 2 show that the calculated t value of 2.52 is greater than the critical t value of 1.96 at 0.05 level of significance. These results show that there is significant difference in the effects of social support between married and single women. The hypothesis is therefore rejected.
Table 2. The Summary Table of t – Test Showing the Difference in the Effects of Social Support Between Married and Single Women.
Calc t value
Critical t value
*Significant at 0.05 level
It was hypothesized that there will be no significant difference between single and married women in their work/family conflict experience. The result obtained through t – test analysis is shown in Table 3. It is observed that the critical t value of 1.96 is greater that the calculated t value of 1.34 at 0.05 level of significance indicating that there is no significant difference between married and single women in their work/family conflict experience. The hypothesis is therefore accepted.
Table 3. The Summary Table of t -Test Showing the Difference Between Single and Married Women in Their Work/Family Conflict Experience.
Cal t value
The results of the first hypothesis revealed that there is significant difference in the level of stress between young and old women. This finding implies that age plays a significant role in determining level of stress experienced by women. The present findings support the earlier findings of Salawu (2004), Aremu (1999), and Almedia (2002) who reported that young and old women differ significantly in the level of stress experienced. The age difference in women’s experiences of stress can be attributed to the fact that different people respond with different degree of stress to different stressors as argued by the UK Health and safely executive (1998). The way the young and old women perceive stressful situations could also be different and studies have shown, that the way a person perceives interprets and appraises stressful event determines the effect of the stress (Akinboye, et al, 2002).
Almedia (2002) cited by Salawu(2004) who reported a significant difference between young adult/midlife adult and other people in their stress argued that this is due to the fact that mid life is typically our most productive period, we are forced to juggle the demands of career, spouse, children and aging parents during this period. By age 45 and above individuals have better understanding of one’s family life; career and aging parents might have gone to the great beyond. What would have been so stressful to a 30 year old might just be struggled with by a 45 year old, which is perception of life and events change with age. Studies have also shown that past experience (either in form of familiarity with the situation or in the form of practices and training to cope with the situation) can significantly alter the level of subjectively experienced stress and change reaction to stress. The years of experience could be directly proportional to chronological age of an individual. This is because the more one stays at a position; the more one grows older and learns to cope with occupational stress, (Megrath, 1997; James, 2002). Aremu (1990) is of the view that although the cost of home management and work appears to be burdensome, young working mothers seems to have more shock- absolver to effectively cope with the challenges, partly because of their age, energy and agility and more importantly because of less demanding responsibilities.
The present findings are, however, at variance with the findings of Ogunlanoh (1986) Fasakin (2002), Aboderin (1998) and Asuzu (2004). These researchers reported no significant difference in the level of stress experienced by woman based on their age. The possible explanation for this multidimensional nature of stress and age is the fact that age is not an important factor in stress adjustment. The determining factor in stress is the psychic durability of an individual and this does not depend on age, nor is it a function of age.
The result of the findings from the second hypothesis revealed a convincing significant difference in the effects of social support between married and single women. This finding implies that married and single women experience the effects of social support differently. The present finding is in line with the findings of Sherbourne and Hays (1990), Alarie (1996), kendler (2005), Aremu and Hammed (1998) and Aremu (1998). These researchers reported that married women have more favourable marital satisfaction and health outcomes as a result of spousal support.
The possible explanation one can proffer for this affair is that as opined by Kessler and Mcleod (2002) being integrated into social support and social networks and receiving high levels of social support are important for mental health and well-being, particularly for women. Kendler (2005) argued that social support from family and spouses appeared to mean somewhat more to women than support from friend. While Alarie (1996) observed that conjugal relations as a form of support serves to increase women’s ability to use effective coping strategies to handle stress. The present finding is at variance with the findings of Cohen (1988) who reported that for the spouses of men who are in the armed forces, regardless of the form of support received the problem experienced persist and no impact on their health. It could also be deduced from the present findings that since it is a deep human need to be loved and cared for (New York Reuters Health, 2005), feeling loved and supported by family and friends (Kendler, 2005) will be protective against common mental health problems.
The results of the third hypothesis revealed no statistical significant difference between married and single women in their experience of work/family conflict. This finding implied that women are not different in their experience of work/family conflict. It also indicates that marital status has no bearing, contrary to expectation, as to whether women would experience the conflict of home and work balancing. The present findings are in line with the findings of Aremu (1999), Fasakin (2002), Ogunlanoh (1986) and Salawu (2004). These researchers reported no significant difference in the occupational stress among married and single women. The results of these present findings are surprising since one would have expected that married women with more responsibilities would have be more stressed than the single women. However, the findings of this study are contrary to this expectation. The possible explanation for this is that both married and single women are faced with similar working conditions such as inflexible work schedule, unfriendly organizational culture. Just as the married women are faced with marital, children, social, academic, extended family, and in-law problems that bring them stress, the single women are equally faced with stressful situations such as financial problem for self-maintenance, clothing and education. Love life problem, search for life partner and the care of their siblings. Ogunlanoh (1986) reported that married and unmarried teachers are given equal duties to perform at school, and this makes them experience stress alike.
This present finding is however, at variance with several other earlier findings of Frone, Rossell and Cooper (1992), Greenhaus and Bentell (1985), Okonweze (2005), Hays (1990), Alare (1996), Aremu and Hammed (1998), Aremu (1998) and Kendler (2005). These researchers reported significant difference between married and single women in their experience of work/family conflict. This situation could be explained with the view of Baruch and Barnett (1987) who argued that women who had multiple life role (e.g. mother, wife, employee) were less depressed and had higher self-esteem and were more satisfied in their marriages and jobs compared to women and men who were not married, unemployed or childless. It is also argued that it is because married women have extra social support from spouse and children than the single women.
Implication of the Findings
It is evident from this study that the effects of stressful life events and the effects of conflict arising from the juggling of work and family responsibilities have individual and interactive adverse physical and mental health consequences on women. For instance, long hours of work lead to stress and long hours of work stress lead to mental health problems in women such as burnout, depression and a variety of other illness. Stress in women leads to reduced energy, difficulties n dealing with others and difficulties completing the required tasks and duties of a job. They usually also have feelings of low control, helplessness and powerlessness. The findings revealed that improvement in the quality of work and family would produce corresponding improvement in the quality of life. It is discovered that positive stress, which is the competent management of stress, can enhance well being and can be harnessed to improve performance.
The findings demonstrated convincingly that integration into social networks and receiving high levels of social support are important for mental health and well-being. They also act to improve self-appraisal and self-esteem. The study also showed that different types of support, such as emotional, practical and informational supports, from different sources, such as the family, coworkers, spouse, church, mosque, and neighbourhood are more beneficial to health.
The study therefore serves as an awareness forum to sensitize employer of labour in the Nigerian labour market to establish family supportive programmes that can help reduce stress and conflict from work environment for women employees to improved health outcomes. The Nigerian women are encouraged to be socially connected as this will improve their mental health and general well-being.
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