Women’s issues can refer to any concern that might impact a woman’s mental health. These concerns might be related to gender stereotyping or assumptions and concerns related to women’s health, but they are also likely to include other challenges faced by women that have nothing to do with gender. It is typically considered best to avoid making assumptions based solely on gender, as a person’s identity is multifaceted and no single aspect defines a person entirely.
Women may experience certain biological, environmental, and psychosocial challenges related to gender, and these concerns can have a significant impact on mental health and well-being. These issues, and many others, are often able to be addressed in therapy with the help of a mental health professional.
Some mental and physical health concerns women face may be related to gender. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that not only are women more likely to experience mental health concerns such as depression or anxiety, women also experience mental distress at higher rates than men do in all age brackets. Researchers continue to explore the various biological, environmental, and psychosocial factors potentially contributing to these differences. Dr. Richard Nakamura, a key contributor at the 2005 Surgeon General’s Workshop on Women’s Mental Health, states a focus on women’s health is vital, as “important biological differences related to hormones and brain structure may affect mental health risks, rates of disorders, and the course of those disorders.”
Until recently, it was widely believed the hippocampus—the part of the brain partially responsible for regulating emotion and memory—was larger in women than in men. This belief is considered to have at least partially contributed to stereotypes that women are more emotionally expressive and have better memory. A study conducted at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in 2015 found the hippocampus to be the same size in both men and women and further found there to be minimal differences between the brains of men and women, supporting similar findings of previous studies. Thus, the challenges faced more often by women may occur more as a result of gender-based stereotypes, assumptions, or some cause other than gender.
Biological, environmental, and psychosocial factors may at least partially contribute to the development of certain mental and physical health concerns. These may be somewhat impacted by gender in some cases, but a woman may easily develop concerns that have nothing to do with gender. Sociocultural issues such as gender socialization, prevalence of domestic violence, lower socioeconomic status, and so on may contribute to health disparities. A single mother who has a full-time job but still finds it challenging to pay her bills each month may be at greater risk for depression, anxiety, and stress. Pressure to succeed both at home and at work, potentially coupled with the obstacle of lower pay, is often likely to have a negative impact on mental health.