Gender and Mental Health: Understanding the Link
Mental health and gender are two facets of a person’s overall well-being that are closely intertwined, and research has shown differences in mental health between genders. Fortunately, recognizing and understanding the link between gender and mental health can help to reduce mental health disparities, and promote mental wellbeing for all.
How Gender Can Affect Mental Health
Gender roles and expectations are pervasive, and the impact of gender norms can particularly manifest in a person’s mental health and well- being. Here are a few ways in which gender can affect mental health:
- Social Pressures: Men and women often face different social expectations when it comes to behaviours, expectations of success, and communication. These expectations can result in higher levels of stress and anxiety in either gender.
- Prevalence of Anxiety and Depression: Women in general tend to report higher rates of anxiety and depression than men. This difference may in part be due to social pressures, differing rates of diagnosis, or other underlying risk factors.
- Mental Health Services: Not all mental health services provide the same level of acknowledgement or care to different genders or gender identities. It’s essential to seek out services that provide respectful care regardless of gender identity.
Foundations for Positive Mental Health
Engaging in activities and behaviours that nurture and promote mental wellbeing can be helpful for all genders. Mental health begins with a foundation of self-care:
- Practicing relaxation techniques like mindfulness and meditation.
- Getting enough sleep.
- Eating balanced meals regularly.
- Exercising regularly.
- Engaging in recreational activities or hobbies.
- Participating in self-reflection and personal growth.
In addition to personal habits, seeking out support and understanding in relationships, at work, and in day-to-day life can create a strong foundation for mental health.
Gender roles and expectations, and their effect on mental health, are still being understood and explored. Overall, it’s important to take a holistic approach to mental health and wellbeing, no matter what gender you identify with. In the end, mental health comes down to self-care, seeking support and understanding, and striving for balance in every aspect of life.