I spoke out in a recent Westminster debate on women’s mental ill-health, which is on the increase, with one in five now experiencing common mental disorders and young women the most at-risk group.
The prevalence of poor mental health among women is similar to that among men, but there is a clear gender difference in the rates for different types of mental illness. Women are more likely than men to experience anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders, and we know that young women and girls are at more risk of self-harm.
Research has shown that women are most affected by austerity measures, with evidence making it clear that cuts to public services are directly linked to mental health problems, and that women living in poverty are more likely to suffer post-natal depression. These findings are backed up by a study which found that poverty increases maternal depression.
We know that single parents, 90% of whom are women, are more than twice as likely as any other group to experience persistent poverty. There are obvious things we can do to better safeguard the mental health of those women. When we know that Universal Credit has been implemented in ways that negatively impact people's mental health, particularly women in persistent poverty, it's clear we need to do more than just focus on treatment if we want to tackle the mental health crisis.