WOMEN AND MENTAL HEALTH: THE STRUGGLE TO PROVIDE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN UNDER-RESOURCED AREAS.
Over the last few decades, a lot has been discussed and investigated regarding mental health afflictions, specifically, those that arise in a person’s life such as; depression, stress, eating and/or addiction disorders, etc. However, it is only until recently that the underlying reasons for such unfortunate conditions have been examined in more detail.
The World Health Organization states that gender differences in health have a greater impact on women’s mental health than on their male counterparts. In fact, a large number of studies provide strong evidence that suggests that gender-based differences contribute significantly to higher mental health problems in girls and women when compared to boys and men. It is believed that these differences are due to power imbalances and status disparities between the genders.
One of the reasons for this crisis is the strain of social norms that women, regardless of their social status, experience. For example, women are provided with less opportunities for personal or professional development, women are less represented by other women in leadership positions. And to date, women are still paid less when compared to their male colleagues in the corporate world.
The social pressures women experience increases the likelihood of women suffering from severe mental health problems. Many women experience little to no control over their lives due to such social pressures. It is in this case that for instance, women are not able to study or work due to external constraints such as bringing up and maintaining the family, forced pregnancy and forced abortions.
Furthermore, gender-based violence is a contributing factor in the decline of women’s mental health. Stress and various forms of depression occur with more frequency in women who have been on the receiving end of domestic abuse and physical violence.
Yet, the problem is even worse in under-resourced areas. We have been challenged to think about how women and girls effectively resolve these problems. Due to prevailing ingrained attitudes and unfair cultural differences, women are more vulnerable to external factors that affect their mental health. This puts them in a precarious position not only because of these biases but also in terms of access.
Undoubtedly, this crisis is deeply complex. Governments and local institutions need to make positive strides in the field of women’s mental health. It is the state’s moral and legal responsibility to significantly invest in women’s mental health. More importantly, it is the duty of the Government and the society at large to change underlying patterns and beliefs that cause women and girls to suffer from different mental health conditions. When you help women – you help the world.
Article by Victoria Roisman and reviewed by Jonathan Muthumbi