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Women’s Mental Health — Breaking the Barriers of Stigma

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Women’s Mental Health — Breaking the Barriers of Stigma

  • Mental Health

Women’s mental health risks sometimes go unappreciated, but trauma can affect us all.

It occurs when an individual experiences a stressful event or another circumstance that overloads their capacity to cope.

This experience can happen to anybody, and the resulting post-traumatic stress disorder and mental illness are serious problems that affect people of all genders, nationalities, and races. In the United States, nearly 60 million people live with a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. 

While these disorders do not discriminate, powerful societal beliefs discourage women from seeking available help to treat these disorders. 

These unfair assumptions of disgrace lead to adverse social reactions, known as stigmas, that aggravate the consequences of trauma. 

Because of these fears and misunderstandings, women sometimes don’t see their trauma and the resulting symptoms for what they are — serious health problems. They often self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, isolate themselves from society, or experience shame or discrimination from others. 

Thankfully, qualified health professionals work hard to eliminate these stigmas and make access available to all who need it, regardless of gender. Read along to find out more.

The Stigma Women Face

Stigma is a socially constructed process requiring labels and stereotypes to rank people by status. The level of shame that society piles upon one class of people can predict the level of shame any class member may feel.

Women continue to earn less than their male counterparts in the United States. Disproportionate expectations for caregiving duties combined with their longer life spans cause women to live in a lower socio-economic status than American men. Many people expect women to care for others, and women experience stigma if they prioritize their mental health.

The stigma women experience is both public and private:

  • Public stigma concerns negative prejudices society carries about mental disorders, in general, that may linger from generation to generation.
  • Private stigma, or self-stigma, occurs when an individual feels ashamed about their disorder.

The stigma facing women is so prevalent that it even follows them into the offices of the caregivers who are there to help. Here are some ways that society expresses stigmas against women with mental health concerns:

  • Professional stigma occurs when mental health professionals harbor unfair beliefs about their patients. 
  • Institutional stigma is an unspoken negative judgment that a particular organization, such as a professional or social group, might hold against mental health concerns. 

Breaking the Barriers of Stigma 

Fortunately, help is readily available for women who suffer from the effects of trauma, and the results can be life-changing. Here are some places to start.

  • Learn more. Education is vital to clearing up half-truths and misconceptions about women’s trauma. Learn more about the effects of trauma to find stories of others who have experienced similar problems. Often, this is an essential first step to clearing the fog of stigma.
  • Examine your beliefs about mental health. The attitudes we bring to caring for our mental health come from what we learned from our surroundings during our upbringing. As you learn more, examine the judgments you bring with you as you start your journey toward better health, and be prepared to discard notions about trauma that are incorrect or no longer serve you.
  • Seek treatment. Research shows many trauma-specific treatment models help women recover from traumatic events. Among the most common are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Trauma Affect Regulation: Guide and Education Therapy (TARGET), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR).  
  • Get involved! Find events in your area that build awareness and raise funds for mental health awareness. Meeting others who have the same experience as you help lower the anxiety that can surround women’s health concerns. Look for 5Ks, auctions, or other fundraisers dedicated to raising money for foundations associated with women’s mental health issues.

Contact Us

At Advanced Behavioral Health, we understand women’s mental health risks, including pervasive societal stigmas that may keep them from seeking the care they need to heal from trauma.  

We understand the extraordinary burden women carry, and we offer compassionate, confidential health services free from judgment. Our team members will be standing by to help you find the confidential consultation you need, so call us at 301-345-1022 or reach us online here

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.

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