Category: Mental Wellness

International Women’s Day: Understanding Women’s Mental Health

International Women's Day 2019: Understanding Women's Health

International Women’s Day is marked each year on March 8. This year’s theme is #BalanceForBetter, and as we observe this day, it is only prudent that we address women’s mental health. With more clarity about women’s mental health, it is then possible to address women’s needs in a better way.

There is no health without mental health. In marking International Women’s Day, this provides an excellent chance to address the difference between men and women as far as mental health is concerned.

Gender and Women’s Mental Health

Mental illness affects both men and women, often interfering with one’s ability to lead a full life. While the general rates of mental illness are similar for men and women, there are unique gender-based differences in terms of how the mental illnesses manifest.

According to a report by WHO, gender is a key factor in mental health. Over the years, the significant burden of mental illness has been highlighted more that the gender-specific factors surrounding the same.

Read More: #PPDMyStory – One Kenyan Mom’s story and how she got help

Gender is a critical element because it establishes the differences between men’s and women’s control over their vulnerability to particular mental health risks. Nowhere is this more evident than in the rates of common mental illnesses – anxiety, depression and psychosomatic symptoms.

Gender differences in terms of mental illness

Research shows that the three common mental illnesses affect 1 in every 3 people. Depression for instance, is twice as common in women as it is in men. There is a reason for this – the symptoms of depression and anxiety are directly related to interlinked factors. These factors include gender-based roles, societal expectations and life stressors.

To put this in perspective, consider the following gender specific risks that affect more women than they do men:

  • Gender Based Violence (GBV)
  • Sexual violence
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Poor pay (and in light of this, the global pay gap between men and women)
  • Pregnancy and complications arising thereof

Read More: Postpartum PTSD: When moms experience trauma during childbirth

It is important to clarify that this is not a battle between men and women. We cannot be blind to the fact in Kenya, men are more likely to die by suicide than women. A survey carried out by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicates that 421 cases of suicide were reported in 2017. Out of these cases, 330 of the suicides reported were by men.

Why the gender-based differences in terms of mental health?

The fact that most women take up responsibilities in caring for families and running their households seems to contribute significantly to this gender-based difference. For some, this comes at a steep cost when you consider the time and energy that goes into running households, a labour which, for the most part goes unpaid. This takes a huge toll on women’s mental health and financial status.

Read More: The Invisibleness of Stay-At-Home Motherhood

Add to this some of the challenges that women face at the workplace, particularly in male-dominated fields and it is easy to see the need for gender equality. But this does not, and should not take away from the need to promote women’s mental health.

How can women take care of their mental health?

As we celebrate International Women’s Day under the theme #BalanceForBetter, it is an opportune reminder that behind every woman playing her role in society, is a human being whose physical, emotional and mental well-being matters. Mental health is at the core of our well-being.

Below are some tips to help care for your mental health.

Take care of your physical health

Poor physical health increases the risk of mental illness. This is why mental health and physical health should not be thought of as separate entities. What is good for the body is good for the mind. Make sure to have a balanced diet, get adequate sleep and engage in physical activity.

Maintain healthy supportive relationships

Maintaining healthy relationships is key to a woman’s mental wellbeing. These relationships not only offer support, they also provide much needed stability in the midst of life’s daily challenges.

Create boundaries

Societal expectations placed on women sometimes make it difficult to draw a distinction between different aspects of life. To improve your mental health, it is important to create boundaries between your professional and home life. This allows you to plug into your social networks and enjoy interests outside the workplace and at home.

Practice selfcare

It is said that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first before taking care of others. Whether that is staying indoors over the weekend, practising affirmations, cutting out toxic friendships or simply unplugging from the internet. Read More on selfcare here.

Be aware of the symptoms of mental illness

Awareness is an important part of caring for your mental health. Knowing what symptoms to look out for is key to help with your mental wellbeing, especially because one’s mental health will vary throughout their life.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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January is Mental Wellness Month – Here are 5 tips to help you

Mental wellness matters.

Did you know that every January is Mental Wellness Month? By definition, mental wellness refers to the state of emotion of psychological well-being in which a person is able to use their emotional and cognitive capabilities. This way, a person is able to function and meet the demands of daily life.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental wellness encompasses more than the absence of mental illness. The state of well-being means that an individual is able to realize their abilities, cope with normal stressors in life as well as make a contribution to the society.

Marking mental wellness in January (and beyond)

January marks mental wellness month globally. The movement was started to help people take better care of their mental health. This approach takes a proactive angle to keep off a negative mental scale. Aspects of daily life can profoundly affect one’s mental state. These range from financial constraints to work-life balance, relationships and chronic illness.

In this state of mind, one may experience erratic sleeping patterns, social isolation, mood swings and low energy levels. When discerned early, it is possible to improve one’s mental state. Below are some tips that you can use to maintain a positive state of mind.

Mental Wellness Month
Mental Wellness Awareness

  1. Take care of your body

Physical exercise is one of the ways in which you can ensure mental wellness. Exercise helps manage anxiety and reduces tension in the muscles, both of which are associated with prolonged stress. In addition to this, exercise helps the body release endorphins. Endorphins are body chemicals that trigger positive feelings in the body and reduce stress.

Taking care of your body also means eating healthy. Processed foods not only affect one physically, they also impact one’s mental health negatively. These foods slow the body’s metabolism and cause you to feel more fatigued. Opt for healthy foods and more fruits and vegetables.

Read More: 5 tips for managing Postpartum Depression during the holidays

  1. Practise selfcare

Selfcare means doing the things and activities that enhance your emotional and mental health. It means making yourself a priority above everything else. Figuratively speaking, it is wearing the oxygen mask before trying to save anyone else. This goes a long way in taking care of one’s mental health.

Selfcare looks different for everyone. Getting adequate sleep, meditating, journaling and unplugging from the internet are all examples of selfcare. Other examples of selfcare include doing something creative, positive affirmations and taking time to recuperate.

  1. Maintain social connections

For many people, maintaining social connections is an integral part of mental wellness. Surround yourself with people who build and encourage you. These connections not only help to keep you grounded, they are also a reminder that you are not alone. Having someone to share with, dance with and laugh with makes a big difference.

Read More: When moms are unable to bond with their babies postpartum

  1. Set realistic goals

Setting unrealistic goals is one of the ways how mental wellness is challenged. To counter this, decide what you would like to achieve. It helps to break down these goals into doable tasks and then working towards them at your pace. There is an incredible sense of achievement as you tick off the tasks. A number of tools are available to help you keep track of your progress.

  1. Do not be afraid to ask for help

If you feel the need to, get in touch with a mental health care provider or therapist. There is no shame in asking for help. A mental health care provider is trained to help you cope. Additionally, the professionals can help you create a plan to look after your mental health. In more severe situations, one may need medication to help them cope. The bottomline is that there is no shame in having a mental illness. It is not a sign of weakness.

Would you love to join us for the 30-day mental wellness challenge? Click on this link to learn more.

 

 

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