In recent years, there has been increasing acknowledgement of the important role, mental health plays in achieving global development goals, as illustrated by the inclusion of mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals. Depression is one of the leading causes of disability. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 years old.

Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the common stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community – World Health Organization (WHO)

Gender And Mental Health

Gender is a critical determinant of mental health and mental illness. The patterns of psychological distress and psychiatric disorder among women are different from those seen among men. Differences between genders have been reported in the age of onset of symptoms, clinical features, and frequency of psychotic symptoms, course, social adjustment, and long-term outcome of severe mental disorders.

Women And Mental Health

A woman needs to feel like she is a priority and fully supported. She does not want to feel like a second priority behind work, hobbies and other interests. Setting aside quality time to spend with her will make her feel cherished, rather than just wanting to spend time with her when you have nothing better to do.

 According to John Gray, six emotional needs of women include:

  1. Caring / safety
  2. Understanding
  3. Respect
  4. Devotion / to be cherished
  5. Validation
  6. Reassurance /affirmation
Factors that affect women’s mental health
  • More women than men are the main carer for their children and they may care for other dependent relatives too – intensive caring can affect emotional health, physical health, social activities and finances
  • Women often juggle multiple roles – they may be mothers, partners and carers as well as doing paid work and running a household
  • Women are over-represented in low income, low-status jobs – often part-time – and are more likely to live in poverty than men
  • Poverty, working mainly in the home on housework and concerns about personal safety can make women particularly isolated
  • Physical and sexual abuse of girls and women can have a long-term impact on their mental health, especially if no support has been received around past abuses.

Mental disorders can affect women and men differently. There are also certain types of disorders that are unique to women. For example, some women may experience symptoms of mental disorders at times of hormone change, such as perinatal depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and perimenopause-related depression. Each year, 1 in 5 women have a mental health problem such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, or an eating disorder. More than twice as many women as men have been diagnosed with anxiety. Women are almost twice as likely as men to experience depression.

Warming signs of poor mental health among women
  • Persistent sadness or feelings of hopelessness
  • Misuse of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Excessive fear
  • Seeing or hearing things that are not there
  • Extremely high and low moods
  • Aches, headaches, or digestive problems without a clear cause
  • Irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Suicidal thoughts
 Six suggestions to improve their mental health
  1. Get at least 15 minutes of sunshine per day, which is shown to boost vitamin D and elevate your mood.
  2. Spend half an hour in nature whenever you can.
  3. Take a short trip with friends and family members, exploring what’s in your local area
  4. Unplug from devices.
  5. Practice forgiveness, share your laughs and love
  6. Good Nutrition

Each stage of being a female should be a positive experience, ensuring women and their babies reach their full potential for health and well-being.  Promoting health along the whole continuum of pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal care is also crucial. This includes good nutrition, detecting and preventing diseases, ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health and supporting women who may be experiencing intimate partner violence, this will help to improve women’s mental health.

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