Happy International Women’s Day.
Whilst I strongly identify with women empowerment and equality this is not to be mistaken with the ‘tearing down’ of men nor changing a day of strength and celebration into a ‘men versus women’ debate.
Since Mental Health is affiliated to gender, today is a great day to discuss differences between men and women when it concerns mental health.
It’s important to recognise there are indeed differences as gender determines the socio-economic, social position, status and the way in which we are treated.
This makes women much more susceptible to and exposes us to specific mental health illnesses particularly anxiety, depression and eating disorders. What’s more, pregnancy and menopause can further impact women’s mental health.
I often wonder if the lack of gender equality resulting in biased social norms is the reason for a far higher suicide rate amongst men.
It’s certainly the perpetrator for family dysfunction within the home resulting in violence, addictions and broken families; known contributory causes of mental health illnesses, which are in turn passed down to children and potentially affecting generations to come.
By looking at how mental health illnesses differ from gender to gender we can assign the right level of support and rid stigmas attached. However, until all of society catches up with our varying needs we will have to educate ourselves and instead tend to our own mental wellbeing outside of the watchful eyes of biased gender norms and unite in solidarity.
If you are a mother suffering with post-natal depression you are no less of a mother for experiencing this illness. It’s not a new disease and we should not feel vilified for suffering with it.
In the same way men suffering with social anxiety when in large crowds or PTSD should not feel any less men nor unable to speak about it.
- What labels do you give yourself in order to meet gender, social, or cultural ‘expectations’?
- Are these expectations making you happy?
- What do you think would happen if you didn’t meet these expectations?
Vulnerability is a strength and regardless of gender reaching out for help (be it a counsellor, support group/organisation or friend) is to honour ourselves and our needs.
Although today is about celebrating women empowerment, gender equality and the achievements of women all over the world, we cannot ignore how each gender experiences the world around us or more accurately the way society colours our views and the impact these differences can cause to our overall mental wellbeing.
Happy International Women’s day.