The prevalence of mental health issues garnered significant attention in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many people acknowledged lockdowns and other restrictions and uncertainties were adversely affecting their thoughts and outlook. Though those restrictions were ultimately lifted and life returned to something closer to normal for people across the globe, mental health has remained both a hot topic and a concern.
The organization Mental Health America® reports that, as of 2022, just under 20 percent of adults in the United States are experiencing a mental illness. The issue of mental health is perhaps an even bigger concern in Canada, where a 2022 report from the Angus Reid Institute noted one in three Canadians indicated they are struggling with their mental health.
Such statistics are troubling, though increased public dialogue surrounding mental health has done much to remove the stigma long attached to conditions such as depression and anxiety. That stigma affected certain groups more than others, including women. In fact, a 2017 report from the United Kingdom-based Mental Health Foundation indicated that women are three times more likely than men to experience common mental health problems. And that problem is worsening, as the MHF notes that women were two times more likely to experience such issues as recently as 1993.
Learning the developing signs of mental health issues may compel women to take action more quickly. Prompt treatment can increase the likelihood that women overcome mental health issues, which could lead to more positive short- and long-term results. The American Psychiatric Association® notes that it can be useful to contact a mental health professional if several of the following symptoms are occurring.
• Changes in sleeping habits or appetite changes. Changes in sleep and appetite can be dramatic or may contribute to a decline in personal care.
• Mood changes marked by a rapid or dramatic shift in emotions or depressed feelings. Individuals may also become notably irritable.
• Emerging mental health issues may be marked by recent social withdrawal and a loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyed.
• An unusual drop in functioning at school, work or social activities, such as quitting sports, failing in school or difficulty performing familiar tasks.
• Mental health issues can contribute to problems with concentration, memory or logical thought and speech. These problems can be hard to explain.
• A heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, or touch. Some people even avoid over-stimulating situations.
• Mental health issues may contribute to apathy marked by a loss of initiative or desire to participate in any activity.
• Some people experience a vague feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one’s surroundings; a sense of unreality also may develop.
• Illogical thinking is another potential sign of an emerging mental health issue. This thinking many involve unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or influence events. Adults may exhibit an illogical or “magical” thinking that is more typical of a child than an adult.
• A sense of nervousness characterized by a fear or suspicion of others. A strong nervous feeling also may be present.
• Some people with mental illness exhibit odd, uncharacteristic or peculiar behavior.
• A change in school or work marked by increased absenteeism, worsening performance and/or difficulties in relationships with peers and coworkers.
Data indicates women are more likely to experience mental illness than men. That makes recognition of mental health symptoms an especially significant component of personal health care for women across the globe.