Women and Mental Health: What You Need To Know
We’ve come a long way from the days when women experiencing mental health issues were accused of participating in witchcraft or the time when potential “solutions” to depression and anxiety included marriage or abstinence. Mental health education and access for women has changed dramatically in the centuries since, but despite these strides, there is still work to be done. Today, women are at a greater risk than men for certain mental health conditions (even more so if they are part of the LGBTQ+ community), and are often expected to balance work while managing the majority (or entirety) of child care responsibilities. Below, we’ve provided some statistics to help raise awareness about these disparities, as well as some resources we’ve found helpful.
Stat #1: Women experience depression at rates twice that of men
There are many reasons that contribute to this significant disparity. Biological factors and inherited traits definitely play a role, as well as hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy and postpartum. However, this higher risk isn’t due to biology alone. For example, women are much more likely than men to live in poverty, and this stress around well-being and safety can lead to depression. Work overload is another factor, as women who manage careers, take care of at-home responsibilities, and provide child care for children are at a much greater risk. Black women in particular are half as likely as white women to seek care.
Stat #2: Women in the LGBTQ+ community are 2.5x more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance misuse compared with their heterosexual counterparts
Not only are women in the LGBTQ+ community more likely to experience these mental health issues, but LGBTQ+ individuals often experience stigma and discrimination when they attempt to access health care services. As a result, many may put off looking for the care that they need. Regional location can play a role here as well, as those who live in areas with smaller LGBTQ+ populations are more likely to feel isolated and not receive the care and social support they need.
Stat #3: Women’s Unpaid Labor is Worth $10,900,000,000,000
According to a calculation done by The New York Times, if women were paid minimum wage for the unpaid work they do helping around the house and caring for children or relatives, they would have earned $10.9 trillion globally in one year (and this was in 2019, which means an updated calculation that took the pandemic into consideration would be much, much higher). And as we read above, this overwork can have a significant impact on mental health. In January 2021 alone, 275,000 women left the workforce, compared to only 71,000 men, and this overwhelming reliance on women’s free labor is likely a major contributing factor. It’s no wonder the wealth gap between men and women is so high (and even higher for women of color).
Stat #4: Black women and women of color reported feeling hopelessness, sadness, worthlessness nearly twice as often as white women did
And despite this vast difference, only one in three Black adults who need mental health care receive it, and they are less likely to receive guideline-consistent care or be included in important research.
These four stats are only a glimpse into the disparities that exist, but help raise awareness and provide education around women and mental health. If you’re looking to learn more, the resources below are a great place to start: