Women’s mental health: Insights, strategies, and support

Coping with a mental health condition is often anything but easy—and it seems as though gender may play a significant role in the development of mental health concerns and an individual’s battle with mental health. For women, their perceptions of themselves, as well as the preconceptions of others, may influence how they choose to deal with mental health concerns. 

Women may find themselves conflicted when dealing with mental health issues and fear how others might view them if they disclose their struggles. While men are statistically more likely to hide their mental health struggles and remain silent in their suffering, women face more potential backlash for seeking help. 

Is Women's Mental Health Important?

Women’s mental health is extremely important. However, it is often dismissed and hidden from discussion — even access to mental health resources for women is severely restricted and limited. 

Women accessing mental health care and dealing with mental disorders are extremely stigmatized. Many women receive direct or indirect messaging that their mental health is not important, or that what they’re experiencing is not “real,” that it is an overreaction, or that it is simply “imagined.” This harmful rhetoric and dismissive narrative further discourage women from seeking treatment and support to heal and find techniques to effectively manage and regulate their emotions.

Our current society places a heavy burden of pressure on women to conform and creates a narrative that women “shouldn’t need” mental healthcare, as the things they are experiencing and the work they’re doing is the touchstone every woman should meet rather than an impossibly high standard. Mental health is a critical, required component to health and well-being. One cannot have health and overall wellness without general mental well-being and a way to stay “tethered” mentally. 

Is There a Women's Mental Awareness Month?

There is not a specific women’s mental health awareness month, despite there being a Men’s Mental Health Month that occurs every June. However, there is Women’s Mental Health Awareness Week that occurs annually starting on Mother’s Day. 

This highlights the significance of bringing awareness and the continued importance of education regarding women’s mental health and poor access to or quality of care that women face when seeking help for their mental health concerns. 

There’s also a more general mental health holiday called Mental Health Awareness Month that occurs in May, when organizations and people can bring attention to mental health issues, care, and education. 

What Are Common Women's Mental Health Issues?

Many of the same mental health issues that impact men and individuals of other genders impact women as well. However, one of the main issues in women’s mental health care is stigmatization creating a barrier to women accessing treatment. For example, women are underdiagnosed with ADHD, are misdiagnosed, or their problems are ignored when seeking help. 

A higher prevalence of anxiety-related disorders can be seen among women, as well as cases of depression, trauma, and stress-related disorders. Some of the most common mental health issues that are prevalent in women are: 

Other common women’s mental health issues that don’t specifically fit into criteria for disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) include grief and loss, higher chronic stress levels, lack of perceived and real support, and feelings of loneliness and isolation.

What Are Common Factors That Affect Women’s Mental Health?

Some stressors that impact the presentation and intensity of mental health conditions in women include but are not limited to:

  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Childcare stress
  • Vocational stress
  • Pressure from society to perform
  • Financial stress
  • Uneven household labor distribution
  • Gender discrimination
  • Laws passed that prevent bodily autonomy for women

Societal pressure can place a heavy mental and emotional burden on women that, oftentimes, there are few ways to escape. If you feel like these issues or others are starting to weigh too heavily on you, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. Stress and anxiety are not the norm, and you deserve to feel supported, validated, and encouraged to express your emotional experience.

What Are Some Facts About Female Mental Health?

One of the most common struggles that women experience with their mental health is, again, access to care. Women’s accounts of the symptoms they experience are disproportionately dismissed by medical professionals, and this rate rises significantly with the intersectionality of identities such as race, sexual identity, body size, etc. 

There are many cultural myths that women are “predisposed” to experiencing anxiety because they are “hysteric” at baseline — a myth that is not at all true. Further, postpartum anxiety and depression occur at much higher rates than are discussed in popular culture and society. Many women feel shame or guilt regarding the symptoms and intense emotions they feel post-birth when in reality, it’s a completely normal side effect of hormonal regulation after pregnancy. 

Differences in Mental Health Experiences Between Genders

Depression and anxiety disorders tend to be more prevalent in women than men. This is not due to genetics, but cultural practices, customs, norms, and access to healthcare as factors to consider.

This is theorized to have something to do with the way that men and women differ in their expression of negative emotions, with men seeming to externalize what they feel through physical aggression and verbal communication, and women becoming withdrawn and more likely to internalize negative feelings or withhold affection from those they’re upset with.

Research points to higher rates of anxiety and depression in women than in men—and regardless of whether it’s due to male stoicism or not, it’s a serious health and social issue that needs to be addressed. 

Due to events such as gender-based violence and the societally-driven pressure women may face to find a partner and “settle down,” women are also more likely to develop PTSD, as well as to report intense feelings of loneliness. 

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Navigating Women's Mental Health Challenges

Reaching out to a mental health professional for assistance is often a process defined by vulnerability, uncertainty, and hope, too. Unfortunately, for people of all gender identities, shame and fear of judgment can stop many from ever seeking therapy or counseling. 

The “hysterical woman” trope is an old generalization, cemented in sexist 19th-century theories postulated by male psychologists of the time. This is just one of many stereotypical representations of women which can be used to minimize the unique hardships and mental health struggles that women may experience, including: 

  • Being depicted as overly emotional, sensitive creatures who can’t handle the stressors of professional or domestic life.
  • Being viewed as mentally and physically frail or fragile because of their typically smaller stature.
  • Menstrual cycles or pregnancies being used as a way to dismiss cognitive or physical distress, including remarks such as, “It’s just her time of the month,” or, “It’s just the baby blues.”

Because of this, when mental health conditions or concerns do arise, women often fear being written off as irrational or temperamental. This is just one of the many gender-specific hurdles that modern women must overcome in their lives as they work to achieve mental health and well-being. 

Coping Strategies for Women's Mental Wellness

There are many great coping strategies that women can use to make sure that they are pursuing mental wellness. Here are some simple practices you can try on a regular basis to improve your mental health:

  • Stay connected to trusted others and cultivate a social support network — no matter how big or small. It’s an excellent way to achieve success, contentment, and overall well-being.
  • Allow yourself to pursue your hobbies and interests. Your hobbies are a way to express yourself, which helps you feel more grounded and connected to who you are. Let them give you joy!
  • Create small moments of enjoyment in your daily routine. Whether its a short walk, working on a piece of art, reading a book, or taking a relaxing bath, these moments can increase your levels of dopamine and serotonin and promote overall wellness.
  • Perform regular check-ins with yourself regarding your mental and emotional health. Take time once a week to journal or reflect on your experienced moods and emotions. Are they normal? Was there a day when you didn’t feel like yourself? In what way?

Each of these practices can help you feel grounded in yourself and cultivate much-needed joy in your life.

How to Seek Help: Professional Support Tailored to Women

Women can take some of the following action steps to navigate their decision to seek therapy or counseling. You might start by: 

  • Sharing your decision to seek mental health services with those who will support you: If you can’t trust that someone won’t judge you for talking with a mental health professional, skip this tip — those you share details of your therapeutic journey with should be supportive and can offer you needed encouragement, but if they don’t, telling them can certainly be more harmful than helpful. Know that talking with a provider of any kind does not represent a personal or moral failing. After all, is anyone ridiculed for going to a doctor’s appointment? 
  • Reminding yourself that it’s okay to express your feelings: Female voices are often silenced at a young age, and this can be a hard habit to shake. Feel encouraged to speak up, especially when you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, anger, or other unpleasant feelings — it can not only be a freeing experience for yourself, but also inspire and encourage others that share your experience.
  • Casting aside societal labels: No one can truly define you but yourself, so ditch the ball and chain formed by stereotypes and tropes. A therapist or counselor can help you rebrand yourself and reframe your life’s journey. This might mean that, if you were written off as “hysterical,” you can start viewing yourself in a new light — as bold, resilient, and outspoken. You contain immense power within you.

With so many derogatory views and social hurdles to clamber already, the last thing that women should have to do is internalize the negativity and allow it to harm their self-esteem and sense of value. But with the right provider, and hopefully, a social network that supports their independence without judgment, women who are experiencing mental health issues can take the power back into their own hands, one session at a time. 

Table of contents

Is Women's Mental Health Important?

Is There a Women's Mental Awareness Month?

What Are Common Women's Mental Health Issues?

What Are Some Facts About Female Mental Health?

Differences in Mental Health Experiences Between Genders

Navigating Women's Mental Health Challenges

Coping Strategies for Women's Mental Wellness

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Alexandra “Alex” Cromer is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) who has 4 years of experience partnering with adults, families, adolescents, and couples seeking help with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and trauma-related disorders.

Christine Ridley, Resident in Counseling in Winston-Salem, NC

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Christine Ridley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in adolescent and adult anxiety, depression, mood and thought disorders, addictive behaviors, and co-dependency issues.

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Theresa Welsh is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with a passion for providing the utmost quality of services to individuals and couples struggling with relationship issues, depression, anxiety, abuse, ADHD, stress, family conflict, life transitions, grief, and more.

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Hannah is a Junior Copywriter at Thriveworks. She received her bachelor’s degree in English: Creative Writing with a minor in Spanish from Seattle Pacific University. Previously, Hannah has worked in copywriting positions in the car insurance and trucking sectors doing blog-style and journalistic writing and editing.

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  • Chatmon, B. N. (2020). Males and mental health stigma. American journal of men’s health. Retrieved April 28, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7444121/

  • Kuehner, C. (2017). Why is depression more common among women than among men? The Lancet Psychiatry, 4(2), 146–158. https://doi.org/10.1016/s2215-0366(16)30263-2

  • McLean, C. P., Asnaani, A., Litz, B. T., & Hofmann, S. G. (2011, August). Gender differences in anxiety disorders: Prevalence, course of illness, comorbidity and burden of illness. Journal of psychiatric research. Retrieved April 28, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3135672/

  • Study finds sex differences in mental illness. (2011, August 18). https://www.apa.org. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2011/08/mental-illness

  • Otten, D., Tibubos, A. N., Schomerus, G., Brähler, E., Binder, H., Kruse, J., Ladwig, K., Wild, P. S., Grabe, H. J., & Beutel, M. E. (2021). Similarities and differences of mental health in women and men: A systematic review of findings in three large German cohorts. Frontiers in Public Health, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2021.553071

  • Haralu, L. (n.d.). ThinkIR: The University of Louisville’s institutional repository. Madwomen and mad women: an analysis of the use of female insanity and anger in narrative fiction, from vilification to validation. Retrieved April 28, 2023, from https://ir.library.louisville.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1360&context=honors

We update our content on a regular basis to ensure it reflects the most up-to-date, relevant, and valuable information. When we make a significant change, we summarize the updates and list the date on which they occurred. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  • Originally published on 03/24/2022

    Author: Jason Crosby

  • Updated on 04/28/2023

    Authors: Jason Crosby & Alexandra Cromer, LPC

    Reviewer: Christine Ridley

    Changes: Added new copy including clinician comments, and additional source list. Sought to refresh keyword placement, new meta and meta description, as well. New URL slug.

  • Updated on 11/01/2023

    Authors: Hannah DeWitt; Alexandra Cromer, LPC

    Reviewer: Theresa Welsh, LPC

    Changes: Updated by a Thriveworks clinician in collaboration with our editorial team, adding information regarding the importance of women’s mental health, facts about women’s mental health, the existence of a women’s mental health month, common mental health issues faced by women, and coping strategies for women; article was clinically reviewed to double confirm accuracy and enhance value.

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