Women – Educate yourself on Mental Health! — Lionesses of Africa

by Edna Reis 

As a woman who is a psychologist and an entrepreneur working in my field of study, it would perhaps not come as a surprise that I have a major interest for words and definitions. As a result, It is never too much to talk about the meaning of life impact topics such as Mental Health, that is why I shall begin my article with a few definitions. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not just the absence of disease or illness”. 

Mental Health – A state of well-being in which each individual realizes their own potential, can cope with the normal stress of life, can function productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to their community.

Mental illnesses are health conditions that involve changes in emotion, thinking or behaviour (or a combination of them). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and / or problems with functioning in social, professional or family activities.

I always find the WHO’s definition of Health interesting, and even though the word “Mental” is there, it is common to see how much the subject of mental health is still a topic some people struggle with.

Being a woman includes dealing with PMS, pregnancy or infertility, postpartum depression, menopause, diet, anxiety, mood disorders and other emotionally difficult conditions, all this combined with the pressure of the multiple roles we must take on within our society. It is scarcely remembered, however, that these peculiar aspects of the female gender still remain, for the most part, under the dance of hormones – and those hormones are what make women more vulnerable to mental disorders. An often-forgotten factor is the influence of hormones on our emotional health.

The factors that contribute to mental disorders such as anxiety and depression are very complex and can be different for everyone. They are countless and can range from genetics, physical health and lifestyle to life experiences, personality and emotional resilience. Understanding what is influencing our emotional state is very difficult, but it can help us look for the right treatments and support and find the best way to deal with anxiety, depression, etc. 

Therefore, it is necessary to find ways to deal with these situations that due to our emotional, social, cultural, gender and the reality we live in, we are all in one way or another liable to experience certain moments of mental confusion and / or even of mental disorders. One way to begin is to educate ourselves, is to address the misconceptions about mental illness can stigmatize and discourage those who need help. We can do things differently by acquiring basic knowledge so that we can begin to be more compassionate with ourselves and understand others. 

Every single day the world is constantly reminded of the immense power we women have, no matter our role, no matter our background. Remember, WE CAN, so strive to be an agent of change yourself and make Mental Health a daily topic!

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