Every woman deserves a happy, fulfilling life. Unfortunately, women’s mental health issues often go ignored. Society tells women that admitting to feelings of depression after giving birth makes them bad mothers. Career women are expected to raise children, clean the house and thrive in their industries without complaining. Doctors tell women that menstruation is supposed to be painful when they discuss unusually severe symptoms.
Contigo Wellness supports Women’s Mental Health Awareness Month to challenge the idea that seeking help is “weak” or “selfish.” Most women could benefit from seeking counseling at least once in their lives. Psychiatric help can restore energy, alleviate depression and prevent panic attacks. After they’ve sought help, women can learn to prioritize themselves so that life becomes exciting again.
When Is Women’s Health Awareness Month?
Women’s Mental Health Awareness Month takes place in March as does Women’s History Month. To raise awareness, Contigo Wellness offers a free toolkit with literature and social media infographics that partners can share. The program focuses on LGBT women and women of color to highlight their unique struggles.
Throughout the year, Contigo provides tools and information to communities of color. Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) suffer disproportionately from mental illnesses due to poverty, social stigmas and lack of resources. Contigo’s database allows individuals to find BIPOC therapists. They also accept donations to fund mental health programs.
Supporters can sponsor a 30-day Wellness Transformation that includes four therapy sessions and 240 interactions. The subscription renews every month to fund more wellness programs. You can also buy Contigo Wellness merchandise or donate to them directly.
Why Is It Important to Address Women’s Mental Health?
Women’s Health Month aims to help women:
- Restore their happiness and zest for life
- Enjoy raising children without guilt or shame
- Challenge the stereotypes that hold them back
- Make career achievements without experiencing burnout
- Realize that asking for help isn’t selfish
- Show others that women’s struggles are significant, not just “part of being a woman”
- Find a community of like-minded people
- Improve their self-esteem
- Access tools to cope with trauma
- Learn what healthy relationships look like
When women learn how to make peace with their past and the present, life becomes an adventure instead of a chore. They can spend time alone and share their gifts with others. Some women launch support groups to inspire other individuals to seek help.
Which Issues Are More Common in Women?
Women report experiencing certain mental health disorders, and many will experience at least one of the following issues in their lifetimes:
A National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) study revealed that 10.5% of adult women experienced at least one major depressive episode compared to 6.2% of adult men in 2020. Women are more likely to experience abuse and sexual assault, which are major factors in depression and PTSD. The wage gap also makes women likelier to live in poverty.
Women experience specific types of depression, including postpartum depression and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Juggling home and work responsibilities compounds stress because society expects women to be caregivers. Other factors include sexism, eating disorders, body image issues and low self-esteem from seeing “perfect” lives on social media.
Female-exclusive diseases, such as endometriosis, can worsen stress levels and depression. Physical pain can occur as individuals undergo treatment and struggle to maintain their daily routines.
Factors that cause depression also make anxiety more prevalent in women. Physical, sexual and emotional abuse can result in panic attacks, agoraphobia and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Hormonal imbalances can make women feel anxious. Society also pressures women to be happy, attractive and available at the expense of their own well-being. Rumination and obsessive thoughts plague them as they try to navigate society’s demands.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Hormone changes during a woman’s menstrual cycle cause premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which manifests as anxiety, depression, fatigue, irritability and physical pain. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is an extreme form of PMS with severe symptoms, such as inflammation, eye infections, hot flashes, body aches and intense cramps. Psychological symptoms include anger, paranoia, confusion and panic attacks.
Prenatal depression develops during pregnancy. Individuals feel sad, listless and helpless as they deal with pregnancy’s physical and emotional elements. Feeling pressured to be a “happy, glowing mother” may cause feelings of guilt and shame. Prenatal depression can turn into postpartum depression or gradually disappear after a mother gives birth.
Postpartum depression occurs after a mother gives birth. The pain of childbirth, unbalanced hormones, financial challenges and stress from having an infant can make women feel depressed, hopeless and worthless. They might struggle to bond with the infant or question their worth as a parent. In severe cases, mothers have thoughts about harming themselves or their child.
Some women suffer from postpartum psychosis (PP), which causes hallucinations, paranoia, delusions and dissociation. Mania can occur as they become increasingly detached from reality. These parents need emergency care before they endanger themselves or others.
What Are the Barriers to Seeking Care?
Some women live their entire lives without seeking the care they need. Here are a few common barriers to seeking treatment:
- Not having enough money for medical treatment
- Feeling that seeking help makes them a bad parent or spouse
- Hearing from others that women are just “emotional”
- Refusal from doctors to acknowledge their pain
- Living in an area with few resources
- Assuming they don’t have time in their schedule
- Believing they should “push through” their illness
Supporting Women’s Health Month reduces the stigma of seeking treatment. As more women seek help, they can inspire others and discover what they want from life.
How Can You Support Women’s Mental Health?
You can support the mental health of women in your life by letting them know you’re available to talk, especially if they’re dealing with a stressful event, such as childbirth or the death of a loved one. You can also challenge existing beliefs that society has taught us that stand in the way of women seeking care. Listen to them and if needed, refer a friend to a doctor if you suspect she has depression or anxiety. On a broader scale, you can donate to women’s groups and educate others on social media.
FHE supports women’s mental health every day of the year. If you suspect you have an undiagnosed mental illness or need help with an existing condition, our team is available 24 hours a day. We can discuss mental health issues, addiction and treatment options. Contact us today for immediate assistance.