It’s essential to know as much information about your mental health as you can at any time of the year, but with Mental Health Month coming up in May, there’s even more of an incentive.
Here are 10 important facts you should know about women’s mental health that can apply to basically everyone. Some are from experts, and some are from my own experience.
1) “Almost all of the mental health problems that women experience these days have effective solutions,” said Ellen Frank, a distinguished professor of psychiatry and professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.
Although women without mental disorders don’t have to personally worry about treatment options for them, they also don’t have to be in despair if they do develop a disorder. Examples of mental health problems women can experience that can be treated are depression, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. Even mental health issues like negative body image and low self-esteem can be worked on.
“It’s just a matter of women getting connected to those effective treatments, which can certainly be a challenge,” Frank said.
2) Inadequate sleep and irregular daily routines can lead to some mental health issues.
“Getting adequate sleep is such a key factor in every one of these conditions, or preventing every one of these conditions,” Frank said. She suggests women try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night, but understands it can be difficult with so many responsibilities.
3) “Environment interacts with biology and this either creates well-being or distress, and social support is an important part of the environment,” said Donna Stewart, a professor and chair of women’s health at University of Toronto at University Health Network. “One of the things that may protect women from depression and anxiety is to have good social support and to encourage women to increase their social support.”
4) “Women are amazingly resilient, in spite of all the difficulties they have to deal with,” said Stewart, also a past president of the International Association of Women’s Mental Health. “And that resilience needs to be celebrated.”