“I try to factor in some 'me time' every day - just things like a long bath to relax. It doesn't sound much, but it's so important. ”
Women are strong and resilient, and they thrive when they feel respected and safe in their surroundings and relationships. They often play many roles at the same time - including paid work, unpaid domestic and community work, and caring for children and other family members. Women also face certain unique challenges. They experience major physical changes during stages of life like pregnancy, after childbirth, and at menopause.
You might experience postpartum depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues after having a child. Social and cultural expectations to take on parenting or caring roles, discrimination, body image, and self-esteem issues are a few other factors that can take their toll on your wellbeing.
Many women give so much of their time and energy to work, family, and daily responsibilities that they can often neglect their own self-care. Looking after yourself first and being able to meet your own needs is important. In doing so, you also ensure you have more capacity to care for others (if you are in a caring role) and contribute to healthy relationships with others.
If you are experiencing signs of a mental health condition, or know a woman who is, there are a few ideas on this page on what you can do. You can also read more about general wellbeing on our meaningful life pages.
A closer look
It’s important to have a good relationship with yourself first
A woman is twice as likely to experience depression than a man
Domestic violence can have severe negative effects on women’s mental health
The empowerment of women is the best way to promote women’s mental health
When it comes to mental illness, the sexes are different
Improving your mental health and wellbeing
Talking with a health professional, such as a GP, is a good start. Find out how your mental health issues may be linked to physical changes in your body and the treatment options. Talking therapies are recommended, particularly with mental health professionals who specialise in the difficulties you’re experiencing. You can use the National Health Services Directory to find a health professional near you.
Take time to reflect on the relationships you have with others and whether they are supportive or destructive. Connecting with people can prevent you from feeling isolated when difficulties arise.
Devoting time to self-care is also important. Things like improving the quality of your sleep and diet, exercising regularly, and spending time with supportive people such as friends and family can have a positive impact on your wellbeing. Sharing your feelings with others, doing activities you enjoy, and taking time to relax can help you move towards the change you want. You can find out more about self-care and improving your wellbeing in the meaningful life pages of this website.
Helping the women in your life
It can be helpful to be aware of the issues the women in your life face, and the impacts those issues may have on their mental health. Learning about the life stages that lead to a woman’s physical and emotional changes is critical. Whether it’s your sister, daughter, mother, aunt, or friend, let her know that it’s okay to talk about any difficulties she’s having. If you’re not comfortable talking about it, help her to find a GP, mental health professional, or friend who is.
Knowing about some of the real social challenges for women, such as personal safety concerns, discrimination, poor body image, or low self-esteem will give you a new perspective on what she may be dealing with. In helping a woman with a mental health condition, it is important to look after yourself as well. You can find more information on caring for someone on this page.
Being female makes a difference when you have a mental health condition, because of the biological differences. Your body is changing literally day to day because of the menstrual cycle. Being aware of where I am in that cycle helps immensely. I imagine that if you don’t have to deal with those constant hormonal changes, then things are slightly less confusing.
As a mother, it's only natural to put your children and family first. I would miss appointments at times when somebody else needed me. I pretended that I was okay when I wasn’t. This was to my detriment, as sometimes you have to put your mental health first, for everyone's sake as well as your own.
As a policewoman, I was emotionally strong and well-respected. When I got diagnosed with PTSD I thought my whole career would be questioned.