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.
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.