Healthy Mind, Happy Woman
By: Jacquetta Szathmari
sana mente, felix femina
Time to check in. How is your mental health these days?
While approximately 20% of Americans will confront a mental health issue in any given year, a closer look at the statistics reveal that women’s mental health challenges are different.
For example, women suffer from depression at twice the rate of men and are twice as likely to have PTSD due to gender specific traumas. Body dysmorphia and associated eating disorders are much more prevalent among women, specifically young women, and mental health issues triggered by normal hormonal changes and life events, (such as puberty, pregnancy, infertility, and menopause), require targeted solutions.
Unfortunately, while one in five women may need treatment, there are significant economic, social, and cultural barriers to receiving effective care; access being even more difficult for LGTBQ+ women and women of color.
For others, the stigma of needing and seeking help is just too much to bear. Women who are caregivers, for example, or who work in the so-called “caring professions”, may not seek the help they need out of fear of being deemed unfit to perform expected work, social, and familial duties.
Basic education around women’s mental health issues can be the first step towards removing stigma, accessing treatment, and getting well.
Since 1949, May has been designated Mental Health Awareness Month by Mental Health America, a non-profit “dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting mental health as an integral part of wellness”.
MHA’s goal is to treat mental health issues like any other disease and free early screening and intervention is a part of their strategy. Their “Back to Basics” focus for 2022, is supported by a free toolkit to help people understand fundamental mental health conditions and terminology, as well as how, and when, to seek help for mental health concerns.
Available in English and Spanish, MHA’s Toolkit was created to help people assess and re-assess their mental health needs in a world ravaged by two years of a pandemic. Topics include staying mentally healthy, creating habits to support good mental health, coping skills and stress management, and building a strong support network.
MHA is by no means the only game in town, and we have compiled a list of resources for anyone interested in learning more about women’s mental health:
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a large grassroots organization that advocates, educates and raises public awareness around mental health issues. With over 600 community-based affiliates and state-wide organizations in their network, NAMI counts diversity and inclusion as a core belief that it is central to their efforts to provide support to those affected by mental illness. Resources for and about women’s mental health can be easily found by using their site’s search function. They include information related to populations that are often left out of mental health advocacy including incarcerated women, low-income mothers, older women, and women battling addiction.
The Office of Women’s Health (OASH), a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services, also has a site dedicated to mental health. The site gives an overview of common mental health conditions in language that is easy to understand. It also provides local resources for those seeking help and information as well as information on achieving and maintaining good mental health. There is also a section on living, working, and preparing for pregnancy while managing mental illness.
The National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network provides resources for the LGTBQ+ community, as well as for the therapists serving them. As a social justice organization, they offer practitioner development, but also consultation for organizations working with QTPoC. They have a fund to help defray the costs of therapy for those in need, and a very handy online directory of therapists that is searchable by zip code.
Lighthouse is another online resource for finding affirming therapist that serves the LGBTQ+ community. They are currently based in New York City but are expanding their vetted network of practitioners who specialize in working with patients who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer.
Secular Therapy Network is a database of therapists who provide counseling and therapy without a religious basis. Practitioners registered with them are openly secular, atheist or humanist and are vetted by a panel of licensed mental health professionals. Potential clients apply through the site and both their identity and that of a matching therapist are kept confidential until they decide to reveal them to one another.
As you can see, there are resources out there. The important thing is that you use them if you feel you need them. May might have been designated Mental Health Awareness Month, but it is good to remember that paying attention to our mental health is important ALL year round.
Make your sana mente a priority!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jacquetta Szathmari is a New York based writer and the founder of Dernier Mile, a boutique consultancy providing last minute and last mile solutions for your content-intensive, logistically complex, and totally unique creative projects.
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