The rise in workplace stress and economic worries has seen diagnosis rates for mental health issues grow globally. This in turn has seen increased study and analysis of the mind in an effort to understand and address the causes of mental suffering.
Professor of Clinical Psychology Daniel Freeman is one of the prominent figures writing and researching in this field. In his latest book, The Stressed Sex, he takes a look at the much overlooked disparities in mental health problems between men and women.
Recent research has largely overlooked gender in its analysis of mental health issues. Daniel’s research has uncovered some shocking statistics and shows that there are large differences between the genders when it comes to mental health. As he puts it himself, “There’s definite very clear patterns within the genders… [with] women suffering 20-40% higher rates of mental health problems than men.”
These numbers only tell part of the story and there are stark differences in how mental health issues manifest themselves in the sexes.
Internal v External
While rates of anxiety and depression are higher in women men tend toward risk-taking behaviour and substance abuse. In simple terms women tend to have internal issues where men’s issues are externalised. The reasons for these differences can tell us a lot about our societies, how we value people, and the costs that go along with this.
As Daniel points out in his book, women face far more discrimination in the workplace and around their body image. This is best illustrated by the concurrent rise in men’s wages with their weight while it's the inverse for women.
It seems as though women are encouraged to invest more in those around them while society expects men to be more self-reliant. Daniel argues that this is problematic for both sexes. Men tend to suffer silently because seeking help might be seen as a sign of weakness. Over-investment in relationships leaves some women “more vulnerable to the actions of those around them”.
It appears the secret is finding the balance between the two.
Talking Books presenter Susan Cahill spoke with Daniel about his research and findings that are explored in The Stressed Sex.
Listen as Susan and Daniel look at mental health issues and the differences in the sexes - and what can we do to help ourselves and each other?
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