Sunna Trebbin Harvard
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, as 4.4% of the entire global population are struggling with the hardships related to the illness (WHO, 2017). Depression is more common among women. When only looking at the female population, prevalence rates of depression rises up to 5.1%. There is no consensus regarding the explanation behind these numbers, but some contributing factors can be that women often are presenting internalizing symptoms, along with experiencing hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle (Albert, 2015).
Furthermore, in many parts of the world, gender equality is still far from the ruling norm. This can be thought to be a stressor for women, as factors such as having to work harder for less pay and disadvantageous terms related to child birth might contribute to the development of depressive symptoms. Additionally, violence against women occurs at a high rate. Global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Most of this violence is intimate partner violence. Worldwide, almost one third (30%) of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner in their lifetime.
In light of this, TMH would like to highlight the importance of International Women’s Day, which promotes equal rights for men and women. Below are some tips on what you can do to help forge a more gender-balanced world (International Women’s Day, 2019):
1. Celebrate women’s achievement
Highlight, support and encourage women around you. It is important to highlight when women are making progression and achieving goals as this will encourage other women to do the same.
2. Raise awareness against bias
Initiate conversations about gender equality. Question stereotypes and challenge your friends, children or partner to think about the role of women and men in today’s society. Topics for discussion can be the different societal expectations laid upon men and women. For example, if a boy is being loud in the classroom, he is just being a boy. However, when a girl is showing the same behaviour, it is often seen as more problematic. Is this something your friends or children have experienced? If so, in what way? Try to get others involved!
3. Take action for equality
Related to raising awareness regarding gender stereotypes, think about what you can do to change and challenge these ingrained thought-patterns. This can relate to making changes regarding the way you usually think (or not think) about what is “male” and what is “female”. For example, small things that might seem insignificant, like buying a blue sweater for your son and a pink one for your daughter, can have an impact on whether your child will identify and comply with the femininity / masculinity norm. Try to single out and notice things or behaviours that you unconsciously have categorized based on gender, and challenge them!
4. Talk about issues and experiences related to gender inequality
The two themes above have already touched on how you could raise awareness and take action together with your family, co-workers and friends. However, if you have negative experiences related to gender inequality, or have suffered from stereotypes, expectations or responsibilities being projected on you, you might benefit from some professional help. Additionally, if you are currently experiencing or have survived violence or assault, speaking to a professional mental health provider or advocate can help you process and heal from the experience.
Albert, Paul, R. (2015) Why is depression more prevalent in women? J Psychiatry Neuroscience. (2015) 40:4. doi:10.1503/jpn.150205. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4478054/pdf/jpn-40-219.pdf
International Women’s Day. (2019). Retrieved on 04-03-19 from https://www.internationalwomensday.com/
World Health Organization (2017). Depression and other common mental disorders. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/254610/WHO-MSD-MER-2017.2-eng.pdf?sequence=1