Mental ill health among women is on the rise. One in five women (19%) experience a Common Mental Disorder (such as anxiety or depression), compared with one in eight (12%) men.
Mental health and abuse
There is clear evidence indicating that women’s mental health is linked to their experiences of violence and abuse. For example:
53% of women who have mental health problems have experienced abuse.
More than three quarters of women (78%) of women who have faced extensive physical and sexual violence – in both childhood and adulthood – have experienced life threatening trauma, and 16% have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Over a third (36%) of women who have faced extensive physical and sexual violence in both childhood and adulthood have attempted suicide, and a fifth (22%) have self-harmed
Mental health and poverty
Women in poverty are more likely to face poor mental health, with 29% of women in poverty experiencing a common mental health disorder compared to 16% of women not in poverty.
Women in poverty who have experienced abuse are even more likely to experience poor mental health
Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Women
Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women face additional inequalities and challenges to their mental health, such as racism and stigma, and are at particular risk of experiencing Common Mental Disorders:
29% Black women, 24% Asian women, and 29% mixed-race women has a common mental disorder, compared to 21% White British women, and 16% White other women
Mental ill health among young women and girls
Three quarters (75%) of mental health issues are established before the age of 24, and young women have emerged as the highest-risk group for mental ill health:
A quarter of young women (25.7%) have self-harmed – more than twice the rate for young men. There is evidence this could be higher and is growing.*
26% of young women experience a Common Mental Disorder, such as anxiety or depression – almost three times more than young men.
1 in 7 young women (16-24) have PTSD (compared with 3.6% of young men).
72% of those in suicide counselling with NSPCC are girls
Suicide is the third most common reason for girls to contact Childline, and the fifth most common for boys
*A study from the University of Manchester found that 73% of 10-19 year olds who identified as having self-harmed at least once were girls. Experts have seen a “rapid” rise in self-harm among teenage girls, with reports of self harm among 13-16 year old girls rising by 68% between 2011 and 2014.