In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, which just passed, we would like to devote this blog post to talk about women’s mental health. Sadly, there is still a lot of stigma that exists for women regarding their mental health. This stigma is not always talked about. While there are many things that women can do individually to look after their own mental health, there are also many structural issues that exist that can contribute to women’s mental health conditions. This post will explore these larger societal problems and how we can all work against them to support women’s mental health.
1- Validate Women’s Feelings
There is a dominant narrative in our culture that women have to be pleasant, accommodating and cheerful at all times. When women show sadness, anger, jealousy, or any other negative emotion, it is often invalidated or written off as “crazy.” This is a really harmful way of thinking that can seriously deteriorate a women’s mental health. Instead of expressing how they feel, women may feel obligated to bottle up their emotions or cope in unhealthy ways.
Women don’t have to be happy and cheery all of the time. They are allowed to feel a full range of emotions, just like anyone else, and shouldn’t be criticized for it. One way to support women’s mental health is to validate women’s emotions and encourage them to fully feel what they are feeling.
2- Raise Awareness
We can also educate ourselves and raise awareness of women’s mental health issues. Women have higher rates of depression and anxiety than males. They experience changes in their hormones that can contribute to postpartum depression, depression during menopause, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). For women, there are also many societal factors that can contribute to mental health issues:
- With more women exposed to sexual violence than men, they have a two to three times higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Women are more likely to live in poverty than men. Poverty can contribute to trauma and also be socially isolating for women, further harming their mental health.
- Women are more likely to be the main caregiver of their children than men. And women caregivers are more likely to experience depression and anxiety.
It’s time that we talk about these larger issues that disproportionately impact women. When we raise awareness of these disparities, we can work towards creating larger change, in the interest of preserving women’s mental health.
3- Let Go of Unrealistic Expectations
Let’s stop placing unrealistic expectations on women. As a society, we set unattainable standards for women to look and behave a certain way, which can be extremely damaging for their mental health. These standards can further contribute to eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and low self-worth.
We also place an intense pressure on women to juggle multiple roles (often between work and a family). This further promotes a harmful “hustle” culture that doesn’t take burnout into account. These constant demands for women to “do it all” can be extremely dangerous for a women’s mental health. We must challenge these unrealistic expectations we place on women and reduce the pressure we put on them.
Together, let’s lift women up instead of tearing them down for simply being human. When we educate ourselves, raise awareness of these issues and actively support other women, we can help improve women’s mental health.