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Gender and Mental Health: Addressing Unique Needs

Gender and Mental Health: Addressing Unique Needs

Mental health challenges and mental health care have many layers to them. Gender is one such layer that has a significant impact on the kind of challenges one faces and the kind of care one gets.  

How do societal expectations based on gender affect one's mental health? How can we ensure that all genders get appropriate help relevant to the unique challenges they face? And what can we do to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for everyone's well-being?  

Gender and Mental Health: The Context 

Gender is a complex and multifaceted aspect of identity that influences how individuals experience the world and express mental health concerns. With each gender comes a different set of societal expectations, cultural norms, and personal experiences that shape mental health outcomes. 

Unique Mental Health Challenges Faced by Different Genders:

1) Women: Did you know that depression, anxiety, and unspecified psychological distress are 2-3 times more common in women compared to men? These higher rates are a result of gender-specific factors like societal pressure, hormonal changes, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Additionally, women's symptoms can at times be ignored as 'dramatic' or 'PMSing'. 

2) Men: Men are less likely to seek help for mental health issues due to societal expectations around masculinity. They are often expected to be strong, stoic, and self-reliant, which makes them bottle up instead of seeking help. Result? The suicide rates among men are four times higher than in women, and men are more prone to addiction as they tend to self-medicate with alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs.  

Unique mental health challenges faced by men

3) Non-Binary and Gender Diverse Individuals: Non-binary and gender-diverse individuals face unique challenges, starting from a lack of understanding to outright discrimination based on it. There is also a lack of culturally competent mental health care. The freedom of gender expression and assertion is still very limited, and these factors can contribute to higher rates of mental health issues among this group. 

Addressing Unique Mental Health Needs 

1) Promoting Gender-Inclusive Mental Health Care 

Mental health practitioners work based on the systematic education that they receive. If education lacks gender-inclusive and gender-specific knowledge, then so will the treatment it delivers. So, they must receive training on providing gender-inclusive care that respects and affirms the diverse identities of their clients.  

That said, practitioners can also take the initiative to study the latest research and information available on this. Further, they can start by using gender-affirming language and creating a safe and supportive environment for all individuals. 

ekincare provides personalised mental health resources and support, fostering inclusivity and affirming diverse identities. 

Promoting gender-inclusive mental healthcare

2) Increasing Access to Mental Health Services 

Currently, in India, mental health is relatively more accessible in cities and to those with better economic status, compared to rural areas and individuals with lower economic status. Sadly, it's the low-income group that is more prone to mental health issues, and they have less access to resources.  

The recent growth in online resources and telemedicine services is slowly reducing the barriers to mental health care, but there is still a long way to go.  

3) Removing the Stigma and Stereotypes 

One thing that all of us can do to improve the situation is to break the stigma and stereotypes around mental health. Encourage and create a safe space for everyone, irrespective of their gender, to share their mental health challenges and listen with an open mind. Let's stop using stereotypical statements like 'Maybe it's the hormones' or 'Man up!' and instead start asking people what's bothering them and how we can help.  

Removing the stigma and stereotypes

4) Normalising Mental Health Care 

How is it okay to go to a doctor for even a minor headache and not okay to go to one when you have been depressed for weeks or months? Normalising mental health care is essential to speeding up the process of increasing accessibility and availability. When the need becomes glaringly obvious, there is a better chance for the supply to follow. 

As individuals, we can make this happen by having conversations about it and encouraging people around us to seek help when needed. Just like colds, fevers, and fractures don't have genders, let's not belittle anyone's mental health challenges based on their gender.  


Everyone has a right to appropriate health care, and this health care should also include mental health care. This is not possible until we recognise and address the unique challenges that come with gender. By understanding how gender influences mental health and responding with gender-inclusive and responsive approaches, we can create a more equitable and supportive environment for all individuals to thrive. 

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Nivetha Kannan

Content Writer, Silver Oak Health

Nivetha Kannan writes blogs on mental health and well-being topics for Silver Oak Health. She is a professional content writer and is passionate about the field of psychology & personal development. She writes impactful content that brings positive changes in people. Her mantra for life is to 'be curious and not judgemental'.