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Women’s Equality Day: When it comes to mental health, gender equality matters
Posted in Mental Health, Women, Women’s Health - 0 Comments

Gender equality is a favorite topic for political or social discourses. While discussing it, one generally focuses on the economic and political aspects, such as inequality in pay or position of power, and sometimes, the physical and psychological aspects, such as violence against women. However, the consequences of gender inequality, especially how it affects the mental health of the victims, often get ignored.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), gender, a critical determinant of mental health, determines the differential control and power men and women have over their social position, status and treatment in society, as well as their exposure to specific mental health risks.

Mental health is hugely affected by gender inequality. Though overall rates of psychiatric disorders are almost identical for both men and women, there are striking differences in the patterns of mental illness observed in both the genders. For example, as compared to men, women are more likely to be affected by anxiety, depression, domestic and sexual violence, psychological distress, trauma and high levels of substance abuse.

Gender-based differences and mental health

Mental disorders affect men and women differently – in the onset of symptoms, frequency, the course of disorders, adjustment in society, long-term outcomes of illness, seeking help, and treatment modalities used, gender-specific risk factors affect women disproportionally.

A barrier to accurate identification and treatment of psychological disorders, gender stereotypes, such as women being more prone to emotional problems and men being more prone to alcohol-related problems, also appear to reinforce the stigma, affecting the way and the frequency of individuals seeking appropriate help.

Though gender differences are often seen in common and serious mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, and somatic complaints, overlooking these could have drastic consequences in terms of approach to mental health problems and accessibility to treatment.

Reduction in gender sensitivity

In a recent study, researchers discovered the relationship between gender equality and a woman’s cognitive functioning in the later life. According to them, women living in gender-equal countries performed better on cognitive tests than those living in gender-unequal societies. Additionally, they also performed better than men.

Gender-based differences clearly exist and this approach to mental illness involves distinguishing biological and social factors while examining their interactions and being sensitive to how gender-based differences affect health outcomes. A reduction in gender sensitivities would involve:

  • Increase in availability of gender sensitivity services.
  • Acknowledging the past and current specific exposures to stressors and risk factors.
  • Correct and timely diagnosis.
  • Availability of more treatment options for women.

Some of the steps to reduce gender-based discrimination can be:

  • Increasing public consciousness of the reasons and consequences of gender inequality.
  • Increasing enforcement of existing laws against gender-based employment discrimination.
  • Increasing funding for trauma and rape survivors.
  • Reducing the categorization of men and women into traditional gender-based roles.

In 1971, the U.S. Congress designated Aug. 26 as the Women’s Equality Day to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. A major landmark in the women’s rights movement in the U.S., the day calls for attention to women’s rights and their continuing struggle to achieve full equality in all sectors.

Dealing with mental disorders

Though inequality and gender stereotypes are harmful for the mental health of women, leaving them unaddressed can make women victims of emotional pain and physical violence. In severe cases, it may lead to serious mental disorders like depression, anxiety, etc. That calls for immediate action.

A leader among mental health treatment centers for women, Sovereign Health of Arizona provides holistic treatment to all the patients. Mental health treatment at our state-of-the-art facilities encompasses a 360-degree approach and includes multiple levels of care. For more information on the specialized treatment programs offered at our treatment facilities or to know about the finest mental illness residential treatment centers near you, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with our experts.

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