While mental health services have greatly improved in the last decade, women continually face tremendous challenges to their well-being. Women tirelessly engage in activities that leave them overburdened with the weight of responsibility. Those responsibilities can be from unique mental health pressures due to societal expectations, to daily stressors.
This January 25th is Bell Let’s Talk, a corporate initiative to tackle mental health in Canada. Instead of talking about mental health in a general sense, we thought it would serve as a great opportunity to take a closer look at women’s mental health. Let’s dive in.
The Reality of Women’s Mental Health
Today, women continue to be the lead caregiver for children and elderly relatives. The vast responsibilities placed upon women often demand much more than what is required of men, leading to a huge risk for poor mental health outcomes.
For those already struggling with a mental illness, added gender-based stereotypes only increase the difficulty of getting the help they need. This makes it difficult for many to find adequate support or receive necessary treatments. Additionally, mental illness often affects women differently than men.
You may be surprised to know that 47% of Canadian women are at risk for mental health disorders compared to 36% of men. This 11% difference between men and women shows the need for specialized treatment and care for each gender.
What Can We Do to Better Support Women’s Mental Health?
Women deserve to be heard and supported, especially regarding their mental health. Unfortunately, as they balance the everyday battles of inequity in labour divisions, gender roles, and even biological and physiological changes due to pregnancy or maternity, fear of seeking help due to stigma presents an additional hurdle.
Educating ourselves and speaking out can be powerful tools for supporting women’s mental health. With knowledge comes empowerment to challenge stereotypes that contribute to stigmas surrounding the unique struggles women face. We need to ensure all voices are heard regardless of gender, especially when women express their struggles with mental health.
Treatment and Resources for Individuals
Although mental health affects everyone, it’s important to note that women and marginalized groups may present different signs and symptoms of poor mental health. Providing treatments and services geared towards individual needs can better support women and marginalized groups. It’s another step in dismantling stereotypes and stigma when seeking treatment.
From new mothers struggling with postnatal depression to immigrant women facing economic uncertainty, many groups of women require additional resources and advocacy to access the care they need.
Let’s Start the Conversation
Every single day women show resilience, strength, and courage as they overcome various obstacles. And it’s important that we continue to recognize women’s significant personal and social burdens to ensure their mental health remains a priority. So, let’s not shy away from uncomfortable conversations. Education powers change.
Behind every woman who feels uncomfortable seeking help and treatment, there is another who courageously shows her that it’s okay to open up. So whenever possible, encourage open conversation, be available to talk, and provide support.
By standing together, we can create an environment of increased support for women.
At Georgia Strait Women’s Clinic, we provide high-quality mental health and addiction programs to help highly motivated women who may be struggling. If you have a loved one in need of mental health support or treatment for addiction, our doors are open.