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Mental Health and Gender Inequality

Mental Health and Gender Inequality

Mental health describes the state of not having a mental disorder. It is the state of being psychologically sound and stable. It can go on to include the ability of an individual to express emotion and feeling in a way that relates to the feeling at the moment. This ability is regarded to be acceptable to those around them. Several factors, including culture, bind mental health and can be described by one definition. However, to a wide extent, one is considered to be of good mental health when he can properly articulate his emotions and productively go about his life to the person and the community around him. When one does not pose a danger to those around him, he is regarded as having mental health.

The use of the term mental well-being can be traced to the mid-19th century when it was used by the founders of the American Psychology Association to describe the protection of the human brain from all forces that will be used to tamper and, hence, affect the balance of one’s capabilities and have its development altered. During the 19th century, many of those found to be suffering from mental illnesses were largely neglected and shunned by society; this was until Dorothea Dox, a key figure in the turnaround of mental health, strongly advocated for the attention to be given to the persons and called the society not to discard them. Her campaign had far-reaching effects and saw many patients brought to hospitals, but this proved a great task since many hospitals did not have enough staff to provide sufficient care for all the patients. The turn of the 20th century saw the opening of the first outpatient wing concerning itself a mental illness, an initiative of the national committee for mental hygiene.

According to the surveys conducted by the World Health Organization, a significant percentage of the world’s population is suffering from mental illnesses, and this has affected their ability to perform their tasks and make contributions to society in a productive capacity. The significance of good mental well-being is that it allows individuals to have longevity in life and offers them a good chance to have various choices concerning the direction their lives will take. It is well documented that mental illness or inability is related to how well an individual can handle stressful encounters and how well they care for their physical health. Included is the ability of an individual to adequately express his emotions in a way that the society around him deems normal.

When an individual subdues his emotional state and will not employ the proper channels of expressing the feelings he has, especially ones that are negative or cause him anxiety, it may give rise to self-destructive methods of coping, which is the start of many self-degenerating acts such as low self-esteem that leads to drug and alcohol use as well as other substances to make one have felt he is in control of his mental state while the reality is on a downward spiral. In many societies worldwide, those with a history of mental disorders often bear a stigma. People around them will be curious, and this arm-length attitude will only fuel their imbalance further as they will withdraw into their shells and not want to seek help when many of their conditions can be contained and even cured.

Gender inequality is the unfair or imbalanced treatment given to a person based on their gender: male/female. In many instances, inequality reigns in workplaces, leading to disparities in wages and job occupation. As a result of social construction, certain fields are associated with the male gender, and certain are associated with the female gender only. It is here that many cases find the male population in a given task having to earn more than their female counterparts, including cases where both counterparts have similar educational backgrounds. Some professions require to be performed by females, for example, teaching nurses and librarians, while such jobs as engineers, architects or pilots will be associated with male gender. However, due to a lot of campaigns on the empowerment of both males and females, it has seen a turnaround where diversity is being witnessed around the globe, with more and more persons pursuing fields they wouldn’t have been certain of due to their gender.

Women and Mental Health

Mental health is a condition that will affect both men and women; however, they are not affected in the same capacity. According to the mental health foundation, women are more likely to be susceptible to various mental disorders than men due to several factors designed by the environment and social constructions. However, it is the ability of women to talk out their issues and the strong bonds they create that will have them stand a better chance of protecting their mental health. It is clear that women take up man roles in life and are constantly busy and on the move to ensure those dependent on them have a comfortable and easy time as they go about their day. This will range from their home- spouses, children, extended family, and community, to their places of work and so forth. Several factors will shape the mental imbalance in women more than it is likely to do for men.

Many women will take up the roles of care providers in their families. This will not only include members of their immediate family but will also trickle down to members of their extended family. For example, in a situation when a member of the family has been hospitalized and is suffering from a serious condition that will require intensive care treatment, many women will take such roles. Being emotional creatures, they are left psychologically drained and unable to cope with the slightest of tasks leading them to emotionally break down easily. This will go ahead to affect their health and their social life at large. Other factors will include the long-term effects of sexual and physical abuse on women as young or adults. Many will not speak out for fear of rejection or the safety of their lives, so the coping methods they will devise will be detrimental to their well-being. They will self-medicate, rely on illegal drugs or become addicted to alcohol. It will see a rise in violent tendencies in others, who will take to the same violence imposed on them to resolve issues.

The female has been said to be multi-asking. This situation has become a plunging spiral that has seen them biting off more than they can chew. Many strive to do everything perfectly. It becomes difficult to delegate duties, so the result is that duties need to be accomplished or that others are neglected. When this happens, their stress levels will increase, affecting their overall mental stability. Many find themselves working in environments in which they are subjected to lower pay due to the presence of many female workers. This is why many women are financially less stable than men. In many broken homes, the man will leave; if there are children, they are left under the mother’s care. Trying to fulfill others’ wishes leaves women little time for themselves and no outlet for their pent-up frustrations, thus, leading to mental conditions such as depression, eating disorders and high anxiety levels.

With such odds stacked against it is interesting to note that more women will seek treatment and consult a physician to manage their state. They will also be more open to other unconventional means, such as yoga and meditation, to relieve stress. About 29% of those who seek medical treatment are women. One of the factors that contribute to this high number is the fact that women are more likely to accept that they are distressed and that they need help. In many extreme cases, such as suicides, a lower percentage is recorded for women since it may be assumed their various roles will inhibit such thoughts. They will find it hard to be apart from their children. Society has given them a heavier burden to shoulder in the community, and these bonds they create sometimes work better than sitting in a therapist’s office for years to come with little outcome.

Men and Mental Health Care

A trend common to the United Kingdom as well as to other countries of the world is that each year, there are more boys than girls born. However, more boys than girls die in infancy before reaching the age of one year. The strides made in women’s mental health will need to be reflected in the case of the men. Age mortality studies conducted in 1999 revealed that men have a higher death rate than women. It is inclusive of health and other social-related factors. It was estimated that about 12.6% of men would have their daily activities hampered due to illness and that men would experience higher levels of hypertension than women.

Low social and economic status is among the prevalent factors contributing to men’s emergence of mental instability. However, the case is spread to other common men statuses, but those who are likely to be affected are mostly those with lowered socioeconomic status. Many will want to fill that they are providing adequately for their families, and when this is not the case, there is cause for increased stress levels, hypertension and decline in physical health; since there is a strong connection between poor physical health and the occurrence of a mental illness.

Some of the most affected are the male gender of minority groups, which is in comparison to those of the white race since many in this minority group tend to be of poorer health than their white race counterparts. They are also exposed to various negative environmental and social factors contributing to men’s death rate. Many of them will not have the opportunity to have a quality education, and hence, their chances of succeeding in life are none in several hundred if not thousands, and so to fend for themselves and their families. Such men do not have a chance to live in safe neighborhoods, and the increase in the cases of homicides is a cause for concern as they grow older.

It was observed that in many of the minority households, for example, an African American setup, the higher the level of income and education a man has attained, the higher risk of hypertension, while on the other hand, the higher the level of education and income women have, the less likely they are to develop hypertension. It is because they are more likely not to get employment compared to their colleagues of white origin, who may have similar or lower educational backgrounds. Should they have a good income, they will tend to have lowered levels of wealth since they take on various roles of provider for their less privileged family members, and this is an additional stressful situation since they will constantly be concerned about their welfare and that of the other people they support.

Racial discrimination against the minority group is another reason that will adversely affect an individual’s well-being. It is an everyday struggle to prove they are above the average and rise above the general stereotypes they are judged by. The male population will undergo higher levels of discrimination than their female counterparts; just as society has shaped the female gender as an emotional being, the male gender has been deemed the stronger sex. This outward show of strength has seen lesser men take the initiative to seek medical treatment when distressed. All medical sectors prove that men are less likely to visit a medical facility, in most cases, until their condition is prolonged and has reached unbearable levels. Therefore, they have a higher risk of chronic illness and levels of stress.


Improving the nation’s health is imperative for all the key players in the health sector. While both men and women are prone to mental health illnesses, they do not have the same prevalence. In many cases, women are more likely to have mental disorders, while in the same light, they are more likely to seek medical help. On the other hand, men will not seek immediate medical help but rather will opt for other ways of relieving stress that will adversely affect their health. Since men are not prone to talking about their feelings, since this will be a sign of weakness on their part, and they are concerned about their masculinity and the image they portray in public.

In the medical field, practitioners spend less time on male patients than female ones. They will provide them with less service and less advice. They will give them less information and spend less time with them, for example, on lifestyle choices. Such would be the case, for example, in teaching women how to conduct a self-check on breasts than they would to a male counterpart on testicular conditions.

While growing up, there is a significant difference in raising a boy to that of a girl. In many societies, girls are shown more affection than boys. Boys will receive less attention from their parents and the society around them; boys are not encouraged to be in touch with their feelings but are told it is not a manly thing to do. Fear and anxiety are present in girls, and they are urged to have these emotions. Boys are encouraged to show violence when faced with difficult situations; confrontation is with their fists first. They are brought up to be the providers and hardly take help or assistance, and his family’s failure is solely him to blame.

Multiple factors will lead to mental disorders, which should be considered as medical practitioners seek ways to manage or cure their patients. For example, when one is brought up in a negative environment, this is likely to affect them in the long term basis; When one is faced with violent childhood, and this is the only way of life one knows, it is difficult to change this view overnight and had the practitioner not had such a history then they would recommend a remedy that would not be considered suitable for them. Health issues will begin at birth and through their early development. When children are exposed to poor conditions they have stacked against them, they will not have a chance to better themselves due to the life they are exposed to. However, the satiation will be different for men and women.

Women who have been sexually abused are more likely to seek help than their male counterparts in a similar situation. For women, society is more tolerable because they have faced this, but for a man, society is not quite sure how to handle the situation. This reasons why men have a higher suicide rate since their methods of coping are not beneficial to them. Many will turn to drug use and alcohol to try and block the trauma. Medical practitioners and other professionals involved in the wellness and research into the mental well-being of society should make it possible for those facing such a difficult situation to have a way of coping without them feeling that tier masculinity is being questioned. When in such a situation, they feel overpowered and will have no defense mechanisms. They are prone to bullying in school and other episodes of violence in life. The economic impact of a nation affects the well-being of those in it. This issue is especially vital for the male population. When they are more economically empowered, their health will be better. Mental health between men and women is highly determined by how they have established themselves in society.

Society should be aware of the implications of various scenarios on the future development of children into adulthood, and this should enable those concerned with the mental health of the patients, both male and female, to realize it is not a size fit for all and that new policies need to be put in place to ensure the best remedy is given for the situation they are presented with.

📎 References:

1. Barlow, D.H., Durand, V.M., & Steward, S.H. Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach (Second Canadian Edition). Toronto: Nelson, 2009.
2. Lester D. Suicide in African Americans. Commack, NY: Nova Science, 1998.
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6. Stickley, Theo, and Basset Thurstine (Eds). Learning About Mental Health Practice. London: Wiley Rogers & Pilgrim, 2010.
7. Williams, Jennie. Gender and Mental Health Reader. UK: Faversham, 2012.
8. Williams, Jennie, and Joe Miller. Inequality Agenda. Gender Inequality and the Mental Health of Women and Men. London: Wiley. Rogers & Pilgrim, 2008.