Key issues in women’s mental health were explored at the latest Grand Rounds Lecture Series at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q).
Dr Felice Watt, Division Chief of Adult Psychiatry for Women’s Health at Sidra Medicine, described the prevalence and effects of women’s mental health issues globally and summarised the psychosocial, cultural and biological determinants of women’s mental health.
Dr Watt explained that while the total prevalence of mental health disorders in women and men is equal, each group is affected in different ways.
Women have twice the prevalence of depression than men, twice the amount of anxiety disorders and are two times more likely to attempt suicide, although we know that men are more likely to successfully commit suicide. Women have four times the risk of anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders, and 2.5 times the risk of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).’
Close consideration of the key determinants of mental health can shed light on the reasons why men and women experience mental health issues in different ways.
These determinants consist of genetic differences, bio-neurological factors, psychological factors, socio-cultural issues and economic, legal and environmental factors. Gender issues often deepen disparities associated with socioeconomic determinants like income, employment and social status, explained Dr Watt.
Women are more likely to experience poverty, discrimination and social disadvantage and to have low-status jobs and decreased decision-making powers. They are more likely to provide care to others, to provide unpaid labour and to work in poorly paid agricultural jobs. Additionally, women’s mental health is impacted by hormonal factors and conditions such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, postpartum depression and menopause.
All of these factors contribute to the types of mental health difficulties experienced by women, according to Dr Watt. Violence against women is also an important determinant of women’s mental health. As such, gender-informed approaches are important in the effective prevention, diagnosis and management of women’s health disorders, and reforming social and cultural structures that discriminate against women is also key, she explained.
The lecture, titled ‘Key Issues in Women’s Mental Health’, was accredited locally by the Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners-Accreditation Department (QCHP-AD) and internationally by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).
For updates and more information about WCM-Q, visit their website at qatar-weill.cornell.edu.