March 8 marks International Women’s Day, which provides a chance to focus on women achievements and their progress on gender parity. However, I wanted to promote the empowerment and well-being of women by debunking the five Myths about women’s mental health.
Mental health is an illness. Treat it like one.
Myth #1 Thinking positive will help get rid of mental illness.
Fact: Mental illnesses such as depression may rob a person from thinking positively about themselves and the future. Good mental health comes from a combination of many sources such as your social-economic status, culture, and relationship dynamics. Isolating "positive thinking" or “will power” as factors that can alone improve everything underestimates the complexity of mental health.
Myth #2 Mental illness is just a way to grab attention.
Fact: When someone engages in behaviors that require attention, it can be seen as desperate or dramatic. Women may be boxed in and labelled as hysterical. However, it is critical to understand why someone may be engaging in these behaviors. We may take a step back and look at all the different factors that have led to a woman’s mental health condition and then offer support by referring to therapy or a health care provider.
Myth #3 Mental illness may just be a chemical imbalance.
Fact : The chemical imbalance theory has been disproven, yet it’s often presented as an explanation for mental health conditions. As nurturers, women have a long history of taking care of everyone but themselves. Mental illness such as anxiety may just be a response to not having time to focus on our own needs and wants. It is not always the case for everyone. Hence, it is essential to understand the complexities of mental health disorders.
Myth #4 Depression is a sign of weakness.
Fact: Depression has nothing to do with personal weakness. It is a serious mental health condition affecting almost 1 in 5 women each year in the United States. Although women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as compared to men, it can happen to anyone. Depression is not something to feel ashamed about. Although, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear, factors such as hormonal changes and higher sensitivity to interpersonal relationships may contribute to the increased prevalence in women.
#5 Myth: There’s nothing I can do to help someone with a mental health problem.
Fact: Sometimes, it can be difficult to figure out when someone is suffering from mental illness. However, there are many things you can do to help someone while respecting their privacy :
Extend help by letting them know you are there if they need you.
Offer them a listening ear without being judgmental.
Help them find the mental health services they need.
Treat them with respect. Don’t call them “crazy.”
Don’t give up on them.
Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns! Mental illness does not discriminate; it can affect anyone regardless of age or gender. Let’s spread the kindness; recognize and acknowledge the risks, help each other by providing support and make mental health our priority. And as always, if you or anyone you know needs help, please feel free to contact me.