We need to improve the way we deal with young women’s mental health

Over 25 per cent of us are suffering from a mental health condition – more than ever before

With modern day stresses of 21st century living, it is of no surprise that a record number of people are suffering with some form of mental health condition. However, new statistics show that there is gender inequality in the type of people who are being diagnosed with mental health illnesses. These disturbing new statistics indicate that one in four women currently has a mental health illness. That’s just over a quarter of all women.

This also means that more women than ever before are being diagnosed with mental health conditions. Why, then, has this statistic increased to an unprecedented, never-before-seen, amount? Not only is this statistic incredibly concerning, but it must be indicative of the treatment of women within our society and the huge external pressures which are continually and consistently pushed upon us.

Like an alarming amount of my female friends, I have previously suffered from multiple mental health conditions. Although mental health illnesses can arise due to a multiplicity of reasons, there have been definite and indisputable links between mental health conditions, particularly eating disorders, and the rise of popularity of publicly body shaming women online.

With the rise of social media comes the unfortunate ease with which people can discriminate against one another, whether it be slut, body or gender shaming. Social media also brings with it increased external pressures on the modern day woman, particularly with regards to appropriate appearance and behaviour, making many women feel inadequate, not ‘feminine enough’ or sometimes even completely worthless.

With modern day beauty standards at an disgustingly unobtainable high, young women, such as myself, are constantly battling with feelings of inadequacy. Women are being inundated with images of dangerous beauty standards, which can undoubtedly lead to serious problems surrounding eating, depression and anxiety.

These statistics also mean that women are actually three times more likely to suffer from some form of mental health issue than men. In addition to overwhelming pressures and policing on women’s bodies, the popularity of violent pornography is normalising violence and rape within young men and women, which is bound to have a direct impact on the proportion of women experiencing mental health illnesses.

Of course this is not to say that men, particularly young men, do not suffer from the same mental health problems that women do. However, where there is a three times greater chance of women having depression, PTSD or an anxiety disorder, there needs to be acknowledgement of these unequal statistics, along with greater services available to help the women who need it the most.

Like most people, I believe that mental health care should be universally available, regardless of gender. And contrary to popular belief, men are also susceptible to developing mental health conditions wrongly associated with women, such as eating disorders. However, with over a quarter of women having reportedly suffered with a mental health disorder of some description, it’s time to start taking mental health seriously. Specifically to start acknowledging a growing trend in the different gendered experiences of these conditions.

In a society where over over a quarter of all women are suffering with a mental health illness, isn’t it time to acknowledge and tackle deeper societal issues which may be, in part, to blame for such statistics? Perhaps if we focused more on the daily struggles women face which can in turn lead to low self worth and huge anxiety problems, then we wouldn’t still be reading about shocking statistics such as these.

For the sake of all 16-24 year old girls we need to acknowledge a need for better education on such issues, as well as trying to tackle deeply ingrained sexism which continues to heavily impact women’s self worth and esteem.