Mental health is an essential factor for our health’s well-being. The WHO constitution states: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Mental health is a state of well-being where the person acknowledges his abilities and controls his stress and feelings while being productive. Unfortunately, individuals with poor mental health develop serious health complications over time. Many different factors can affect an individual’s mental health, but today we will talk about six specific factors that affect men and women separately.
According to Recovery Access Mental Health, women are more prone to mental illness when compared to men. More than 1 in 5 women reported symptoms of mental illness. Women are twice as likely to experience anxiety and depression than men. Additionally, 25% of women’s death are because of mental illness suicidal. Some factors that may affect a women’s mental illness are:
- Domestic violence and abuse: Women need to feel safe and respected in their relationship to have stable mental health. Unfortunately, experiences such as domestic violence and sexual and physical assault have a destructive effect on women’s mental health. Often being reluctant and afraid, women are forced to stay in relationships where they are being tortured daily. This impacts the women’s mental health in the long run, resulting in depression, suicidal thoughts or even drug and alcohol misuse.
- Infertility and perinatal loss: Infertility and miscarriage are depressive experiences that women go through in their marriage life. As per statistics, one in six couples faces infertility and miscarriage. In addition, one in hundred births results in newborn death. Sometimes, the partner does not understand the wife plight and decides to leave her. As a result, the wife becomes vulnerable and feels abandoned, which directly impacts their mental health.
- Relationship sacrifices: In a relationship, women tend to make more sacrifices and are more likely to fulfil their partner’s needs as they feel that they are responsible for the future of their relationship. Often, while women are busy taking care of their partners wants and needs, they neglect their health. Similarly, in a family, the women are more apt to be responsible for taking care of all the family members, whilst abandoning her own well-being that has had severe and harmful effects on mental health, such as chronic depression in the distant future.
Moving towards men’s mental health, the factors differ from the women’s factors affecting mental health. According to Medical News Today, men with mental illness are 3.5 times more likely to die from suicide than women. The factors that affect a men’s mental health can develop from different causes and trigger their mental health.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Posttraumatic stress disorder is a type of mental health condition with anxiety disorder. PTSD is triggered by experiencing or witnessing an aggressive or life-threatening event such as war, a terrorist act or rape. PTSD is said to be more common in man than women, particularly those who stayed in combat. Men who have experienced these types of events, at a later stage they often relive these traumatic events either in their dreams or they get triggered in specific circumstances. For example, the terrifying dreams would affect their sleep, and they would act with anger and frustration.
- Toxic masculinity: Families often brought up their sons so that they are taught to be strong and can never be weak or express their sadness to people. This grows up with them, where they become decisive for the society while closing up their feelings and not being able to share with anyone. While these feelings are building up years and years, males mental health are negatively affected, resulting in depression and loneliness even if they are close to their loved ones.
- Financial issues: Economic factors are one of the leading causes that affect mental health. In traditional households, men are usually seen as the breadwinner. The norms are set in such a way that men must take care of all the financial issues. These issues build upon themselves and become a burden on the fellow’s mental health. Men will always be worried about trying to fulfil their family’s needs and securing their financial status. While doing so, the state of their mental health stays in a troubled condition for years until that proves to be detrimental to their mental health.
Mental health is often overlooked for men, as men struggling with it are perceived as weak and pathetic. Due to this reason, they become reluctant to speak about their mental health. For example, the American Psychological Association states that around 9% of men deal with anxiety daily, and only 1 in 4 of them are willing to talk about it.
In summary, the above discussion has emphasised six different factors that can trigger distinct gender roles (man or woman). Mental health is a crucial factor in our lives, but knowing mental health and seeking the appropriate treatment is what matters. We can deduce that while women are more susceptible to suffer from mental illness, men also have mental health issues, but they prefer not to talk about in fear of society’s opinion.
Narmeen Nasari, Student of Middlesex University (Mauritius) and YUVA Intern