Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of women throughout history, and to recognize the struggles women have faced and continue to face, particularly in relation to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicide.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), women are more likely than men to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, and yet they are less likely to receive treatment. The following are some of the statistics regarding mental health issues among women and men:
- Anxiety: according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
- Depression: the ADAA also reports that women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression.
- Substance Abuse: the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that women are more likely than men to misuse prescription drugs, and are more likely to develop a substance use disorder.
- Suicide: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that men are more likely than women to die by suicide, but women are more likely to attempt suicide.
Women’s mental health is an important issue that has been largely overlooked. The data coming to us from every study reveals a dire situation. This is due in part to the stigma that still exists around mental health issues, as well as the lack of resources available to women.
The lack of resources available to women is particularly concerning, as mental health issues can have a significant impact on a woman’s quality of life. Women who suffer from mental health issues are also more likely to experience poverty, unemployment, and homelessness. They are also more likely to experience physical health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
It is therefore essential that there is greater public health investment in the realm of women’s mental health. This includes providing more resources to women, such as access to mental health services, support groups, and counseling. It also means raising awareness of the issue and reducing the stigma around mental health issues.
But, most importantly, it is fundamentally important for a new community-based approach to support their care — one that is led and sustained by communities. Why? Communities know the unique aspects of their community and the women that live therein.
Although every month should be dedicated to women and their health, this month is, nonetheless, a great opportunity to take the time to reflect on the importance of women’s mental health and the need for greater public health focus on this issue.
It is also a time to celebrate the accomplishments of women throughout history and to recognize the struggles they have faced. By raising awareness of the issue and providing more resources to women, we can help ensure that all women and by extension all their families and communities achieve their optimal brain/mental health.