In the midst of today's heated debates about women's rights and bodily autonomy, women's mental health is a vital part of the conversation. Now more than ever, activists, celebrities, and everyday folks alike are raising awareness about mental health through highly visible viral campaigns and public health initiatives that aim to fight the pervasive stigma against mental illness head on.
Although mental illness can impact anyone regardless of race, class, or gender, women are 40 percent more likely to develop mental illness than men. They're nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression, and are twice as likely to develop General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). These gender discrepancies have been ascribed in part to structural sexism, but that isn't the entire story.
To explore the state of women's wellness in America, Everyday Health surveyed 3,000 U.S. women ages 25-65 in a 13-minute online survey in October of 2017. They asked them about stress, anxiety, and every aspect of their personal, professional and sexual lives. The results showed what's on women's minds, what factors impact their happiness, and how they conceive of their overall wellness.
The following are six revealing statistics about the state of American women's mental health:
1Stress And Anxiety Are Pervasive
Sexism, racism, economic downturn, threats to the environment and global democracy and a lack of full bodily autonomy and guaranteed healthcare would make anyone stressed out. And, for the most part, most women are. According to Everyday Health, 43 percent of Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers believe that stress and anxiety are negatively impacting their personal wellness, and 15 percent worry about their mental health every day.
2Women Worry About Their Loved Ones Most
Of all the things women listed as daily or weekly worries, their loved ones ranked #1. 75 percent of Baby Boomers and Generation X'ers worried about their loved ones, while 70 percent of Millennials did. Next on the list was worrying about their weight, followed closely by worrying about their appearance, what is going on in the world, and their physical health.
3Millennials Are The Most Stressed
No shocker here, but the so-called lazy, entitled, and avocado-addicted generation is also the poorest and the most stressed out. 55 percent of millennial women told Everyday Health that stress and anxiety is negatively impacting their personal wellness, and 20 percent said their "poor mental health" is a personal wellness challenge they face as well.
4Self-Esteem Is A Problem
Popular entertainment, advertisements, and retrograde conceptions of gender can play a part in teaching women that they're just not good enough — and this survey's statistics confirm how bad women feel about themselves. 50 percent of Baby Boomer women, 57 percent of Gen X women and 63 percent of Millennial women reported that "low self-esteem and/or low self-confidence" is a challenge they face in their lives.
5Sex Isn't That Important To Overall Wellness
Pleasures of the flesh aren't that vital to the wellness goals of American women, apparently, as sex ranks the lowest on their list. Having financial security is the top priority for American women, followed by "being as healthy as possible" and "being loved and supported by others."
Of course, being physically healthy and/or being loved and supported can also mean having a great sex life, but it's not necessarily a value that explicitly matters most.
6Millennials Get Their Wellness Advice From Family And Friends
Millennials are more likely than any other generation to ask their friends and family for health advice and search for their own health information online. Whether this is because of a distrust in the medical profession or a belief that they can better source their own medical information, they are the only age group that doesn't defer to licensed health professionals over all other sources. Whether this is a good or bad thing is hard to say, but when dealing with mental illness, it's important to read up on what new treatments are available, as talk therapy isn't the only way to address your mental health.