By David Saunders | UPDATED: 11:28, 10 March 2020
Brand new research from mental health treatment specialists Smart TMS has pulled back the curtain on the extent to which women across the UK suffer with considerable mental health challenges.
One of the key stats of the research suggests that 3 in 10 women do not feel as though they can have a conversation about their mental health, even with close friends or family – this coincides with the celebration of International Women’s Day this past weekend, an event aimed at raising awareness around gender inequality and women’s issues.
Given that International Women’s Day has now passed, it is more imperative than ever that the mental health challenges faced by thousands of women across the UK are now brought to light – mental health awareness should not by limited to one day, but is an issue to be combatted year-round. Now, Smart TMS research sheds light on several areas in which women’s mental wellbeing is challenged.
Women’s mental health in the UK
Smart TMS’ nationally representative research suggests a noticeable discrepancy in mental health issues faced by women and men, with women suffering with higher levels of social anxiety, poor self-image and loss of confidence. Perhaps even more alarmingly, women also feel less able to open up to their partners, friends or family to discuss their mental health and receive support:
· Over a quarter (27%) of women regularly cancel plans and self-isolate to avoid social interaction as a result of severe anxiety (vs. 21% of men)
· A quarter (24%) of women feel unable to talk to their partner about their mental health struggles (vs. 20% of men)
· 4 in 10 (39%) of women say that they feel significantly less confident than they once were (vs. 28% of men)
· 3 in 10 women (29%) say that they are unable to open up to their friends or family about their mental health challenges for fear of judgment
Women’s Mental Health at Work
The professional arena is another area in which women across the UK are reporting considerable mental health challenges. Despite reports of many companies introducing wellness initiatives and taking their employee’s wellbeing into account, the research showcases that a huge proportion of working women are facing considerable mental strain and difficulty at work:
· A quarter (25%) of women say they’re too busy to prioritise their mental wellbeing, despite having consistent symptoms of depression or severe anxiety
· Over 3 in 10 women (31%) suffer from unmanageable levels of stress and anxiety brought about by work
· 3 in 10 women (29%) feel they cannot discuss mental health issues with colleagues, as they fear a loss of professional reputation or even their job
· Over a third (36%) of women suffer severe anxiety from comparing their success to others around them
Usage of anti-depressants has skyrocketed in the UK in recent years, with the rate of prescriptions now well over 70million per year and more than double that of the late 2000s. Many women have had negative experiences with anti-depressants, and Smart TMS’ research suggests that alternative, more effective methods of mental health treatment must be explored and made available across the country:
· More than 1 in 10 women (12%) using anti-depressants had to discontinue the medication due to severe side effects
· 14% of women taking anti-depressants have reported that they had little to no positive effect, whilst 14% of women have also left a long-term mental health issue go untreated in order to avoid prescription drugs, due to their side-effects or addictive nature
· Over a quarter (26%) of women believe that the best thing their GP could do to help them face depression is to explore other treatment options than antidepressants
A call to action in support of women’s mental health
Gerard Barnes, CEO of Smart TMS, now calls upon industry and government to prioritise mental health and introduce more provisions to help everybody get the support they deserve, whilst calling for more awareness and open conversations around the topic of women’s mental health year round:
“It has been made very clear, both by our own research at Smart TMS and many other sources, that a huge proportion of women across the UK are suffering with a variety of mental health challenges. Events such as International Women’s Day are fantastic initiatives to help raise awareness, but it’s evident that we cannot limit our focus on the issue to one single day.
More needs to be done to help everybody across the UK recognise symptoms of mental health conditions within their own behaviours and respond accordingly, especially for women. It is also vital that people in positions of power, both in the public and private sectors, focus their attention on making more mental health provisions available. Britain’s employers must provide more mental health support and wellness initiatives, and health services must be equipped with the resources needed to introduce more support and explore new treatment methods.”