Nine out of ten people do not realise women are more likely to have poor mental health than men, a new survey has shown.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is also more likely to be seen as a male condition than female, according to the poll from Agenda and Opinium.

Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk, is raising awareness about mental health as part of its Women in Mind campaign.

Katharine Sacks-Jones, Director of Agenda, said: “There is growing evidence that more and more women and girls are facing mental health problems. 

“But despite greater awareness of mental health in general, women’s mental health is still underestimated and misunderstood. 

“More than half of women who have mental health problems have experienced abuse – and too many are not getting the help they need.

“We urgently need to see investment in mental health support and to ensure that women’s needs, particularly their experience of violence and trauma, are taken into account.” 

The poll found that:

· 90 per cent of people did not realise women were more likely to experience poor mental health than men (62 per cent thought it was the same, 15 per cent thought men, 13 per cent didn’t know).

Reality: One in five women has a common mental health condition like anxiety and depression compared with one in eight men.i

· A third of people (33 per cent) thought PTSD was more likely to be experienced by men, compared to 9 per cent who thought it was more likely to happen to women. Nearly half (47 per cent) thought it was about the same.

Reality: Rates among women and men are roughly the same (while an estimated 5.3 per cent of women in England screen positive for PTSD versus 3.7 per cent of men these results are not statistically significant)ii. Girls aged between 16 and 25 are the highest risk group (12.6 per cent). Women with experiences of extensive abuse

are around twice as likely to have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms as soldiers returning from combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.iii

Ms Sacks-Jones added: “It is important we recognise both women and men’s mental health needs. Men are more likely to die by suicide and we must tackle this.

“But, with suicide rates increasing among young women and growing concerns for teenage girls’ mental health, we should not be waiting until we reach a crisis point before we see action.”

Agenda’s Women in Mind campaign is calling for women’s needs to be made a priority in policy, strategy and the delivery of mental health services.

Ms Sacks-Jones currently co-chairs the Department of Health’s Women’s Mental Health Taskforce with Minister Jackie Doyle Price MP, which was set up last year to improve women’s mental health.

For more information about Women in Mind visit: https://weareagenda.org/campaigns/women-in-mind-16/

Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk, works to ensure that women and girls facing abuse, poverty, poor mental health, addiction and homelessness get the support and protection they need. We campaign for systems and services to be transformed; to raise awareness across sectors; and to promote public and political understanding of the lives of women and girls facing multiple disadvantage. www.weareagenda.org

Research was conducted by Opinium amongst a nationally representative sample of 2,004 UK adults between 22 and 24 August 2017.

 i Data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, 2014. Available here: https://digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB21748 (Chapter 2: Common Mental Health Disorders) ii Data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, 2014. Available here: https://digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB21748 (Chapter4: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) iii Using data from Agenda’s Hidden Hurt report showing 16 per cent of women who have experienced extensive violence and abuse screened positive for PTSD. This is compared with data suggesting 6.9 per cent of service personnel who had been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan had PTSD (from: M. Jones, J. Sundin, L. Goodwin, L. Hull, N. T. Fear, S. Wessely, R. J. Rona. (103).  What explains post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in UK service personnel: deployment or something else? Psychological Medicine , Vol 43, 1703–1712.Available here: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/kcmhr/publications/assetfiles/2013/Jones2013d.pdf  [see p1707 for table]).
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