A report suggests that more women book consultations for family members than themselves. But there’s a silver lining of a positive trend there!
‘Beep, Beep Beeeeep!!!’ The alarm clock rings fervently.
As her hand reaches the side table to snooze it for the second time, an inside voice mumbles- “1. Clean the dishes; 2. Make breakfast; 3. Order groceries; 4. Water the plants; 5. Put clothes in the laundry…….. 9. Get ready for office; 10. Get the kids ready for school; 11. Pack lunch…”
It’s 5:45 am and the thought of completing the list before leaving for office at 7:30 am to beat traffic, jerks her out of bed. The resounding echo of her inside voice is louder than any alarm in the world, as it heralds a reality many women have happily embraced in their lives– that family and others come first.
“For generations, women have been taught to put others first, give before they take. I have seen my mother and even my mother-in-law, always put others first and not care about themselves. It’s conditioning,” says Bhoomija Mishra, a 30-year-old professional, working in Bengaluru.
The Cycle of Giving
Bhoomija is not alone to have witnessed this affinity towards being a giver. According to a book called Burnout by Emily and Amelie Nagoski, this condition is categorised as the Human Giver Syndrome– which is defined as a societal expectation that certain individuals have a moral obligation to be giving, nurturing, empathetic and selfless– attributes that are often linked with motherhood and womanhood.
Be it a good girl who is helpful, a good daughter who helps out in chores and takes care of her parents, or a good mother who puts her children first, at every stage of a woman’s life, others become her priority, including health. Or it has been so far.
“Every morning I wake up at 5 AM to complete my chores and help my son get ready for school. Keeping his life on track, helping everyone stay healthy and keeping the house clean is my duty in addition to my work at the office. And, this is how it is when it comes to health as well. Their well-being takes priority,” says 39-year-old Jayashree Joshy.
And to that Vaaruni Bhasin agrees. She shares how every time she falls sick, she tends to take it lightly expecting it to heal on its own. “A visit to the doctor for me is hardly once or twice a year,” she says. But that’s not the case when it’s about her family. “Be it a common cold or something affecting the kids, we monitor them for a day or two before taking them to the family doctor. And, with my parents as well, I take them for regular health checkups. It’s just how it is, your kids and your family are always a priority,” says the working mother of two.
Substantiating this, a recent Practo Insights report revealed that more than 74% women booked doctor consultations for their families through the Practo app, as opposed to 26% who booked it for themselves. The same report also found that in contrast, 22% men booked consultations for their family and 78% booked for themselves.
Breaking The Cycle
While the aforementioned data may seem concerning and indicative of a larger health crisis for women in India, in hindsight, based on yearly comparison, the needle seems to be moving in the positive direction. Because, according to the same report, Practo’s platform witnessed a 23% growth in the number of consultations by women in 2022.
Collected from a pool of 78,000 women users, the app depicted a steady rise in proactive attitude towards healthcare growing among Indian women, with oncology and mental health being two of the top specialties with 96% and 66% increase in consultations, respectively.
What’s even better is that, the report found more younger women being aware and responsible about their mental health seeking help for psychotherapy, psychiatry and psychology.
Acknowledging this positive trend, Dr Rajiv Nandy, Clinical Psychologist,Chairman-Shristi Child Development & Learning Institute says, “Acceptance and awareness has been the most fundamental driving force of this change. Women today are more educated, more aware of themselves and their role in society. They are in positions of power, they know how to exercise their rights, they know when and how to assert themselves and they definitely have the ability to recognise when something is not right and seek help.”
Bhoomija is one of these women who believe prioritising one’s own health is equally important as taking care of the family. She shares how every time her health takes a toll, she ensures her husband takes her for a check-up.
“Afterall, we need to be at our 100% to give our 100% to others!,” closes Bhoomija.