Here you'll find handouts from our speakers and previous conferences, as well as links to articles and mental health resources for women.
Why We Need to Pay Attention to Women's Mental Health
Women's mental health issues differ from those of men. Due to differences in the brains of men and women, newer research is suggesting that women are more prone to some psychological problems, such as depression and anxiety.
How Does Mental Health Differ for Women?
We understand that not all gender identities fit into two categories of men and women.
The insights and resources below focus on the biological differences between men and women, and the variances in mental health connected with sex, to provide education and awareness around the unique mental health challenges faced by women.
These insights do not exclude the validity of individuals who identify with other genders.
Think of the five closest women in your life. Statistically, one of them struggles with mental health challenges regularly. This could be your friends, daughters, mother, co-workers or you.
Mental health issues usually develop out of a combination of genetics, environment, and the experiences a person has in society. Women typically have very different societal and life experience than men, in addition to genetic differences. Research is showing that men and women experience significant differences in the development of mental health conditions.
A Closer Look at Women's Mental Health
The majority of individuals who experience violent crimes, civil wars, displacement from home, sexual assault, physical or emotional abuse are women and children. The CDC shows that 20% of women have experienced rape or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime. 1 out of 8 women will experience rape or attempted rape before the age of 10 years old. In Utah, studies show that 1 in 3 women has been sexually assaulted.
These statistics are alarming when we consider that the average woman will wait 10+ years before seeking help to address her trauma. Women are twice as likely as men to experience PTSD, which can develop following instances of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other traumatic experiences.
Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions. Twice as many women as men will experience depression at some point in their lives, and rates of depression are higher in Utah than the national average. Depressive disorders account for more than 40% of disability in women, and develops out of gender, genetic, social, and economic differences. One study found that 60% of women in Utah who experienced postpartum depression did not seek help from a medical professional, and that postpartum depression symptoms are higher in Utah than the national average.
Anxiety is almost as common as depression, and again women are twice as likely to experience anxiety as men. Testosterone has been found to have antidepressant and anti-anxiety benefits, and is usually found in higher amounts in men than women. It's also worth noting that women are more likely to seek mental health treatment than men, and so this may contribute to a higher diagnosis rate in women.
More men die by suicide each year than women, but did you know that more women attempt suicide than men each year? At a rate of almost four times. Depression is a major factor in suicide attempts, and depression disproportionately affects women.
EATING DISORDERS & BODY IMAGE
Eating disorders involve obsessive thoughts and behaviors that are associated with food, body weight, and appearance. Women are affected by eating disorders at high rates, and often these disorders co-occur with depression and/or anxiety. While there are no definitive causes, research has shown that genetic, behavioral, psychological, social, and cultural factors all contribute to the development of an eating disorder. Low self-esteem as well as feeling pressure to lose weight are often reported as factors in women developing eating disorders.
COVID-19 & THE SPIKE IN MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS
Mental health providers throughout the United States are seeing an increased request for services, yet, there is an insufficient supply of mental health professionals. Recent research has shown that the pandemic has specifically and adversely impacted women’s mental health.
The majority of job loss, which occurred during the pandemic, accounted for women. With what has been termed the “she-cession”, women are still struggling to recover the jobs and stability they lost during the pandemic. In addition to financial and economic stress, women experienced increased rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness during the pandemic. Specifically:
Nearly 25% of women indicated they were struggling with moderate to severe anxiety, compared to just under 18% of men
More than 23% of women indicated severe feelings of loneliness when compared to just over 17% of men
Women also reported higher levels of empathy and emotional understanding than men. This greater empathy was also closely tied to worsening anxiety, depression, and trauma.
Rates of domestic violence increased across the nation, with the overwhelming majority of victims being women. Many women began working from home, and as a result, they were spending more time at home with their abusers than they have in the past.
The societal pressure and expectations that women cope with regularly can increase the chances of developing mental health issues. This includes society’s greater valuing of women who are more physically attractive, empathetic and nurturing, and intelligent.
To counter, men are regarded to be of higher value if they are more honest, have professional or financial success, and exhibit ambition or strong leadership qualities.
Pressure caused by multiple societal roles and overworking has also been shown to account for poor mental health in women. Women are also more likely to be discriminated against as a consequence of their gender when compared to men. This could increase their chances of developing a mental health issue.
1 in 4 women postponed care or missed it altogether due to costs.
Women are also more likely to be responsible for raising children than men. This means they may not be able to find adequate childcare services that otherwise allow them to seek mental health treatment. There are also significant mental health needs surrounding pregnancy and postpartum symptoms, with limited care support.
ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE
Women have reported having a harder time getting time off from work to access required treatment. A study by Kaiser Family Foundation reported that nearly 1 in 4 women could not get the care they needed because they could not take time off of work.
Want More Information?
You may find these articles and resources interesting
Finding the Right Helper: The Differences Between Mental Health Professionals - Caitlin Magidson Blog
How Does Trauma Affect Women's Brains? - McLean Harvard Medical School
Book: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Body, and Mind in the Healing of Trauma - Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
Book: Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma - Peter A. Levine
Book: What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing - by Oprah Winfrey & Bruce D. Perry
Video: This Is What Happens to Your Brain on Opioids - National Geographic
Alcohol Addiction - BBC News
Video: Why Why Talking About Menstrual Pain is Essential to Psychiatric Care - McLean Harvard Medical School
WOMEN'S MENTAL HEALTH AS IT RELATES TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
MORE RESOURCES COMING SOON...
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