Women and Mental Health | Great Health Guide
Women and Mental Health

Women and Mental Health

Written by Pam Maroney occupational therapist

How often do you become impatient or even give up on your dreams and goals? Most of us have a threshold for when we determine it is time to give up and move on to something else.Did you know that just by being a woman this increases the risk of becoming mentally unwell? Females are almost twice as likely than males to experience anxiety and mood disorders. Doesn’t seem fair, does it!? As if women don’t already have enough to contend with!

A recent seminar exploring women’s mental health presented factors that contribute to this; most commonly was violence against women. Women are also more likely to experience financial disadvantage, trauma, gender-based discrimination and sexualisation, as well as pregnancy which can all increase the risk of mental health issues. Not to mention the additional psychological burden associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, which research has shown led to reductions in energy, optimism, humour, creativity, concentration and ability to solve problems.

Despite all of this, many women do not see themselves as needing any type of mental health support.

“Improve your mental health

& live a meaningful life.”

What we should be doing is focusing on how we can prevent the risk of mental ill health in the first place. After all, you don’t eat healthy foods and exercise because you have a physical illness, you do this to avoid becoming physically unwell.

Here are 4 key ideas that can help prevent mental ill health:

1. Live purposefully

Having a purpose in life is usually something that is personally meaningful to you, something that you’re good at, and usually contributes to the greater good. It gives you a reason to get out of bed each morning; it makes you feel like you are making a difference in the world. To find out your sense of purpose, ask yourself:

  • What am I passionate about?

  • What am I good at?

  • What provides me with a sense of satisfaction or achievement?

How do I make other’s lives more enjoyable?

2. Know your self-worth through self-compassion

Self-worth is the internal sense of being good enough, worthy of love and belonging, that comes from self-acceptance. Which means always accepting yourself wholeheartedly despite your flaws, weaknesses, and limitations.

One way to improve your self-worth is through self-compassion. You can do this by:

  • normalising that difficult emotions are just part of being a human being

  • not believing harsh self-judgements or self-critical thoughts

  • talking to yourself kindly and giving yourself messages of support and understanding.

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3. Live life by your values

Values are important to help guide us as we move through life. They give us direction, like an internal compass. Values are our heart’s deepest desires: how we want to be, what we want to stand for and how we want to relate to the world around us. If you live life by your values, this is when you will feel more satisfied with life! 

One way to identify your values is by thinking about a person that you admire and ask yourself what it is about them that inspires you, what does this person represent, what is it that they stand for in life? This can help you realise what values you would like to instil in your own life.

4. Have good self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is the belief in your own ability to control your motivation and behaviours to achieve your goals. An example is – even though a person may be struggling to manage their chronic illness they feel confident that they can get back on track and improve their health by working hard and following their doctor’s recommendations.

Self-efficacy keeps growing throughout life as we acquire new skills, have new experiences, take risks, and keep putting in effort to succeed. So by accepting challenges, not fearing failure, believing you are capable, recovering well from setbacks, focusing on your strengths and staying committed, you can build and increase your self-efficacy.

Don’t be categorised by your gender! Instead, live life by your values, with a sense of purpose, positive self-worth and efficacy, and you can live a life full of wellness and meaning.

Author of this article:

Pam Maroney is an occupational therapist and co-founder of Kemar Meaningful Directions, a specialist Melbourne-based mental health wellbeing service. Pam runs group programs with a clinical psychologist, Sally Kemp, aimed at everyday women experiencing everyday challenges. The programs are based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. They combine educational and experiential methods where you will learn lifelong skills for good mental health! Connect via facebook or www.kemar.com.au

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