Women and Mental Health

The Challenges of Mental Health and Addiction in Women

Recently I had the opportunity to attend an educational event for health care professionals that focused on; “The Challenges of Mental Health and Addiction in Women”. The format of the program was to gain a better understanding of the impacts of mental health and addiction on women. The event was a half-day program that consisted of three presentations by different health care professionals followed by a panel discussion of all three presenters and a question period with the audience. The audience was comprised primarily of women, mainly medical based. However, there was representation from the school board, politicians, corrections, women’s shelters and aboriginal health and wellness advisors. The primary objective of the program was to gain a better insight into the link between understanding mental health and addiction and creating effective treatment programs that fit the unique characteristics of women’s psychological development and needs.
One of the most significant developments in healthcare over the past several decades is the recognition that a history of severe traumatic experiences plays an often-unrecognized role in a woman’s physical and mental health problems. The keys to developing effective services for women are acknowledging and understanding their life experiences and the impact of living as a female in a male-based society. As noted from one of the Speakers, Dr. Kim Corace, a Psychologist from the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, “gender awareness must be part of the clinical perspective as it shapes the framework in which women live and, therefore, their lives. Research suggests that social and environmental factors such as gender socialization, gender roles, and gender inequality account for many of the behavioural differences between women and men”.
As mentioned in our lectures and course material, most of the world today views the male gender as dominant, its…

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