Mental Health and Women

Mental Health and Women

Women and Mental Health

Women and men are different not only in their physical attributes but also in their psychological well-being. Women and men differ in the way they communicate, deal in relationships, express their feelings, and react to stress. Thus, gender differences are based on physical, physiological, and psychological attributes. 

There are 2 theories that speak about gender roles. The alpha theory which follows the psychodynamic school of thought states that men and women are different. Men are the superior gender and women are a deviation. The Beta bias theory ignores or minimizes the gender difference. The cognitive, behavioural, and humanistic school of thought follows this theory.  In reality in some regions, although people talk about gender being the same, there is a difference in the outlook of the genders amongst the people in the society.

Common Risk Factors

Throughout their lifetimes, women face various stressors, including childbirth and maternal roles, as well as caring for the sick and elderly members of the family. Women showcase symptoms of a higher level of internalizing disorders, while men showcase a higher level of externalizing disorders.

This means that in internalizing disorders the issue of concern will be kept to itself or internalized their issues. Disorders like depression, anxiety, OCD, trauma-based, PTSD, loneliness, and characteristics like low self-esteem, suicidal behaviours, and social withdrawal are a few examples of those with internalizing disorders. 

Externalizing disorders involve expressing behavioural issues toward the individual’s environment, showcasing stressors outside their immediate surroundings. Disorders like ADHD, substance-related, mood disorders, antisocial personality disorders, and characteristics like impulsivity, and aggression (be it verbal, physical, or harm to animals) are a few of the examples of the impact that happens to those with externalizing disorders. 

Basic needs Deprivation

Apart from that, they face societal and familial pressures for fundamental needs like education and an independent life. The occupations available for them, especially in lower-income jobs, pay less than they do to men. Such exploitation bears down on an individual’s mental and physical well-being. With that being in place, for centuries we are underestimating the role of women in society. Even today, the educated youth, often underplay the role of taking care of family, doing household chores, and state that – Household chores are not real work.


Many women are married at a young age and often these young girls are underprepared physically and psychologically to experience the implications of pregnancy on their minds and bodies. In the West, experts link post-partum depression to suicides, however, in India pre-natal depression during pregnancy and childbirth is more prevalent in India. Socio-economic discrimination, pressure to have male children, and unreported domestic violence drive such feelings.

Women have to experience public humiliation, sexual trafficking, mental and physical torture, and female foeticide. A woman’s reproductive roles like child-bearing, infertility, and failure to deliver a male child ultimately led to wife-battering and female suicide.


Among the leading death cause, women tend to commit suicide more than men. The trend is seen more in young married women. The reason is having no control over their sexuality, lack of moving freely without worry, the threat of early marriage and pregnancy, and increasing harassment. 

Working Women

People often ask women questions like ‘Why do you need to work?’ and ‘What is the purpose of earning when everything is provided by your spouse?’. Working conditions and environment can have a huge impact on mental health and equally, someone’s mental health can have a significant impact on their ability to perform well in their job. Sexual harassment is a common key point that forces many women to step down from roles or frequently change their jobs. 

Major roadblocks for working women are
Work-life balance

Managing work and personal life causes turmoil in women. The social expectations to match up to and the constant anxiety of keeping up with the demands of both worlds, knowing that the slightest error can cost her so much more than her male counterpart. Most women find themselves juggling responsibilities at home and outside, adding to the workload and emotional burden.

At home, people expect a woman to fulfil her ‘natural’ duties as a mother and wife, putting her under extra scrutiny if she chooses to work outside the house. The combination of juggling caring commitments for children and family as well as doing paid work and facing physical health problems could increase the risk of experiencing mental distress.

Career over family: 

India has grown to be more welcoming to women at work. However, if a working woman opts to focus on her career over having children or having a family, she is frowned upon. In India, society is still fighting the patriarchy, and men are still considered the sole “breadwinner of the family”. Hence, working women often face the question, “Do you really need to?” This is also one of the reasons for higher attrition rates of women at work.
E.g.: A lot of women are confused about marriage and career. This causes a lot of distress. 

All this is causing burnout in women. 

Self-care is not being selfish but empowering oneself. It’s imperative to be able to have a nurturing relationship with oneself. But in a fast-paced world women put themselves in the last position. So many women constantly put everyone and everything first, allowing their own needs to suffer. Self-care is about being your own true friend by listening to your body and mind.

Common grounds and the whole women’s population
Hormonal issue

“Women’s biology and hormonal imbalance cause depression. During pregnancy, after pregnancy, after menopause, and during menopause, women go through major hormonal changes. These changes affect women greatly,” PCOD, Thyroid issues due to current lifestyle, PMS (Premenstrual syndrome) feeling bloated, headaches, moodiness are some of the leading stressors amongst women. 

Physical safety

Globally women don’t feel and are always thinking about reaching home on time or ensuring their safety is the first priority and these thoughts run often in their heads. Many women don’t take up job opportunities in a different city or turn down promotions in order to stay close to their families. 

The need to take permission

In India even today a woman needs to seek permission from their father, husband, or brother to make up important decisions. Society gives more authority and power to men and others, dictating how individuals should live or act, rather than empowering the self.

Access to mental health 

Eg: People do not know my role as a counsellor or how to reach out. Women are hesitant as well. Movies or society have made people think of women as crazy people, lonely women with cats or women who are over-emotional or very sensitive and always make a big thing of an issue. Moreover, many depend on their spouses and family for funds as well due to which they don’t have access to funds for therapy. 

Honor killing

Killing of individuals, often women by the family members as she has brought shame and dishonor to the family. This causes a lot of women to fear society and not have a sense of individualization. Getting out of a bad marriage or not wanting to marry someone, pre-marital sex, are the key reasons why this happens. 


Many women continue to not report incidents of violence, abuse, or assault to the police due to reasons like feeling guilty or responsible for the crime. They often feel it’s part of their life and it’s a normal thing. Often, they are scared to talk about the same due to dependency on their partner for financial aspects or to ensure the child gets a good home.

The only way forward is to educate women and young girls. Education, in every sense, provides women with the awareness of rights and resources as well as the capability to fight injustice and exploitation. Every woman needs training and education to acquire the ability to speak up and fight for her rights.

Improvement seen

In Rajasthan and Jharkhand, 300-plus women were trained to help the government strengthen awareness about adolescent sexual rights and the impact of teenage pregnancy on girls.
Women’s anti-alcohol movement in Andhra Pradesh where they destroyed the liquor shops to fight the alcohol issues of their husbands is a strong move shown by womanhood. Similar movements to fight prostitution, sexual abuse, and domestic violence could be historical leading steps.
The work roles between men and women are also reducing the gap of discrimination. The pay in higher roles and the ability for women to take up leading positions are still in the improvement stage, but it’s a shift from the old attitude. 

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