Tuesday, October 10, marks World Mental Health Day 2023 and the theme for this year selected by the World Federation for Mental Health is: Mental health is a universal human right.
Reports by the UN Human Rights office highlight that people with mental health conditions and those with psychosocial disabilities experience disproportionately higher rates of poor physical health and reduced life expectancy. Stigma is also a significant determinant of quality care and access to the full range of services required.
Nasser Loza, WFMH President, said: “Many people globally tell us what it is like to experience mental illness or to have a member of the family with a mental illness.
“Discrimination, harmful stereotypes and stigma in the community, family, schools and the workplace prevent healthy relationships, social interactions and the inclusive environments needed for the well-being of all members of society.”
One of the key factors being poor mental is anxiety and a recent study team from the University Hospital in Würzburg, Germany, shed light on this problem. A person's own mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, and their quality of life in general, and how these are influenced by the support from friends or at work, were of particular interest to the scientists. They also wanted to know whether the findings differed for men and women.
The findings are unambiguous: in this complex of different variables and influencing factors, anxiety plays a central part. There are, however, distinct gender-specific differences.
"In men, anxiety increases along with concerns about the job, an effect which does not show in women. On the other hand, we were able to register an increase in anxiety levels in women parallel to an increase in their worries about family and friends," says Grit Hein, Professor of Translational Social Neuroscience at the Clinic and Polyclinic for Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy at the University Hospital.
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In addition, the study shows that women in such times respond positively to support from friends and family by experiencing enhanced quality of life. In men, this phenomenon did not manifest itself.
The results of the research were published in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’.
"In the past, numerous studies have investigated the influence of psychosocial factors such as support from friends and colleagues and financial, professional or personal worries on mental health and the quality of life. Yet, data on whether these correlations are the same for men and women were lacking," says Grit Hein, explaining the background to the study.
Broadening earlier studies, the Würzburg research team has therefore now examined the influence of these factors in relation to gender.
"The observation that men are more strongly associated with work and women more strongly with family and friends can be traced back to traditional gender norms and roles," the study notes.
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Hence, men usually feel more affected by job insecurity and unemployment, which leads to higher psychological stress. Women, on the other hand, experience more strain when they feel that they are neglecting their family. It is also plausible that women cope better psychologically when they receive support from friends and family: The results underline the need to consider social aspects in therapeutic interventions in order to improve the mental health of women and men.
(*With ANI Inputs)