Women’s Equality Day: Ensuring equal access to mental health care for women

Women’s Equality Day: Ensuring equal access to mental health care for women

“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons, but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters,” observed noted American journalist and activist Gloria Steinem, known for her feminist movement about five decades ago.

Gender equality is a common goal for various democracies across the world that have been working together to achieve it. There have been achievements and progress along the way in pursuit of the goal, yet a lot still needs to be done in meting out equal treatment to women. Nothing comes in equal measure for men and women, and the same can be said about mental illness as they are more common among women.

The United States observes August 26 as Women’s Equality Day to commemorate the grant of the right to vote to women for the first time in 1920. While this is an opportunity to raise awareness about gender equality and women’s rights, Women’s Equality Day can also be leveraged to address problems and issues faced by women, including access to necessary mental health treatments.

Mental disorders affect women and men differently

Mental disorders affect men and women differently. At times, the same disorders affect them at different levels. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), depression and anxiety are more common among women than men. Mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are seen among both women and men, however, they affect both the genders differently. Women exhibit their symptoms more than men, and it is believed that gender factor has a lot to do with it.

Let’s take a look at some common mental disorders among women:

  • Depression: Studies have indicated that major depressive disorder is more prevalent among women than men. According to the Mental Health America (MHA), an estimated 12 million American women suffer from clinical depression each year. Also, one in eight women is likely to suffer from depression in her lifetime. Though depression can develop at any stage, it is most likely to strike women aged between 25 and 44 years.
  • Anxiety disorders: Many factors may cause anxiety disorders. In many cases, patients have manifested symptoms of both anxiety disorder and depressive behavior. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), women are twice as likely to be affected by generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) as men. While specific phobias affect nearly 8.7 percent U.S. population, women are two times more likely to be affected than men.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Any kind of trauma can cause PTSD. The myth that this disorder is limited to war veterans gets debunked with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs stating that going through trauma is not a rare case as 50 percent American women experience trauma at least once in their lives. Experiences of sexual assault and child sexual abuse make women more prone to feel distressed which triggers PTSD.
  • Suicide attempts: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide claims over 38,000 Americans lives each year. The glaring effect of gender disparity can be witnessed here as well with the fact that women attempt to end their lives three times more than men, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. As per the CDC, women are more likely to harbor suicidal thoughts than men.
  • Eating disorders: Many people are of the view that eating disorder is a lifestyle choice made consciously. But according to the NIMH, eating disorders are serious biological mental disorders that may be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. One in five women struggles with an eating disorder. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 90 percent of those aggrieved with eating disorders are women aged between 12 and 25 years.

Road to recovery

Along with an increase in the expenditure on palpable physical disorders, it is crucial to make mental health treatment centers more accessible. The understanding that women are equally entitled to effective mental health care treatments will help in addressing impediments to equal access and legitimate privileges.

Timely treatment ensures proper and complete recovery. If you or your loved one is suffering from any kind of mental disorder, consult the Sovereign Health to know about our mental health treatment centers in the U.S. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 954-0529 or chat online for information regarding our mental health centers in your vicinity.

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