By Anita Manley
I volunteer as a peer facilitator in the Women’s Mental Health Program at The Royal in Ottawa, ON, Canada. I am always amazed by people, even women, who ask: “What is so different about women’s mental health?”
To answer, I am going to quote my good friend and Lead, Women’s Mental Health at The Royal, Ann-Marie O’Brien:
“Sex and gender are important influencers of health ,illness, treatment and recovery. Sex refers to the biological assignment at birth – male, female, intersex. Gender is the socially constructed meaning; man,woman, trans ,non-binary . Failing to consider the impact of sex and gender serves neither women or men and is particularly harmful for women :
Twice as many women as men are diagnosed with a depressive disorder.
70% of new Alzheimer’s patients will be women.
Eating disorders-the most lethal mental illness almost exclusively effects women.”
“Social factors influence experiences of illness and present additional barriers to accessing treatment:
The fastest growing homeless population is women over 60 in Ottawa.
Women make 82 cents for every dollar a man makes.
Women are more likely to be victims of gender based violence.
Trans folks experience unique barriers due to stigma and lack of awareness of healthcare providers.”
“In Canada age has trumped sex and gender as the critical factor, and receives more funding. Because of this we are missing really important information and prolonging suffering for women.”
So, now you know why women’s mental health is so important. I am so proud of the work we do at The Royal. I see first-hand, many women benefiting from our peer-support programs.