Patterns of communication and unresolved conflict.
Certain aspects of biological, environmental, and social challenges may put women at a higher risk of developing mental health concerns. Research has shown however that many of these challenges may in part be due to gender stereotypes and assumptions rather than structural or physiological differences. There’s no doubt though that women’s bodies and the way they are treated in society play a role overall. Women have often been labelled and stigmatized as being over-emotional, which through the years has lead to devaluing their questions and concerns about their mental and physical health. Women have often been told that heavy painful menses are normal, or that pregnancy or childbirth should be something that comes naturally to most. From this, women often view themselves differently or feel the need to hide their emotions and are placed in a vulnerable position about their overall health.
What are some issues that could be affecting women’s mental health?
- Gender identity & stereotypes
- Employment and wage inequality
- Divorce, separation, loss
- Pregnancy, pregnancy loss and termination
- Post-partum depression and psychoses
- Motherhood and parenting
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Body image and disordered eating like anorexia and bulimia
- Stress, anxiety, depression
- Domestic violence
- Sexual abuse
- Substance Abuse
- HPV and STIs
- Chronic pain like fibromyalgia or cancer
- Menstrual disorders like endometriosis or PCOS
- Reproductive health
How do these issues affect mental health in women?
For centuries women have been faced with issues of inequality and discrimination. Unfortunately, even today, many women continue to face the same challenges. A woman experiencing painful menses may be criticized for needing to take time off work or school. She may have endometriosis yet feel undervalued by her medical team who dismiss her symptoms as something women need to just deal with. Often these women are put on medication like birth control that may not be treating the issues and instead leads to side effects like weight gain and depression. Some woman may need to terminate a pregnancy for various reasons and feel guilt that no one can understand. Other who welcome children go on to face postpartum depression and challenges with motherhood that causes them to view life in a negative manner and affect their day to day lives and ability to cope.
Social media also puts a large pressure on young women to look and act a certain way. The influx of edited images creates a false perception of what a women’s body should look like. Even mothers who view other women and their families on social media may try to relate to a certain standard, not realizing the reality behind the images they view.
It’s fair to say that a number of issues can occurs in a women’s life from adolescence well into adulthood that affects their overall physical and mental health.
How can counselling help?
Being able to identify that something doesn’t feel right or that things need to change is the first step in getting mental health. Building trust and feeling safe in a space with a therapist who can empathize and help you work through these concerns then allows one to gain more knowledge and confidence to continue the journey into healing.
One on one counselling is a great option for those who need to talk to someone about their past and present concerns. Therapists often use various techniques like CBT to then help one identify how their beliefs, emotions, and actions are all related. They can also help provide resources for women who need to find safe spaces or additional support going forward.
If you think you would benefit from counselling, book a free consult today to start your journey into feeling like your best self again.
American Psychiatric Association. Mental Health Disparities: Women’s Mental Health. Richards, M. MD et al. 2017. psychiatry.org
WHO. Women and mental health issues. September 20202. https://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/genderwomen/en/.
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