Gender differences in mental health


Some research obfuscates rather than illuminates the human mind, but is embedded in developmental theory. For example, Anna FreudAdolescents say they want it Divorce Their parents stand aside from overwhelming evidence that, psychologically speaking, teenagers want to renew, maintain, and renew relationships with parents. [1] What is less well known is how the understanding of human progress is inhibited when some seminal studies disappear from view, as if they never existed.

Lack of useful knowledge that cannot be explained

We hear again and again about the crisis in girls’ mental health. of Gender A gap was noticed, but the work that helped shape the issue was forgotten. Maggie Jones, writing last week New York Times“More and more teenagers, especially girls, are giving up on their lives. In 2021, three out of five teenage girls felt constant ‘sadness or hopelessness’, which is the highest in a decade, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this year…. Experts don’t understand why the numbers are so high. Rising….some blame social media.” [2] It seems reasonable to assume that researchers don’t care about gender differences in mental health because this commonplace, casual, and lazy social media blame is so widespread.

Losing what we are looking for

A recent piece in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health [3] He laments the need to address the gender gap in common mental health problems, but ignores a significant body of work that does just that. Instead of examining past research, the authors ask, “Why are we ignoring gender differences in common mental health problems?” They ask.

This is very unfortunate, because in many ways the authors clearly understand the necessary approach. They oppose any “curative tendency [the gender gap in mental health] as inevitable” or necessary or biologically based. They believe it may be related to “the context in which boys and girls are raised and socialized.” “A major component of research in this area should be engagement with women…[and] If we, as mental health researchers, made more of an effort to ask girls and women about their experiences… it could open up many possible avenues for research.

Unfortunately, the authors say, “we have little empirical evidence to describe the drivers of these gender differences.” However, empirical evidence exists in a rich body of research that is ongoing and much cited but largely unexplained in today’s teenage mental health blaze.

Renewal of key research

I mean, of course, a ten-year research project titled “Strengthening Healthy Resilience and Courage in Girls.” Long before the iPhone and social networking sites, teenage girls face psychological destruction: the challenge. they are. To keep peace with others, they silence themselves and when they oppose, they are punished, warned or isolated. [4] Teenage girls learn that they can say what they really think and not be accepted by others, or they can challenge the feminine norms they were introduced to and remain accepted by their parents, teachers, and friends.

These findings are still relevant today. Girls are told that they can do anything, and be whatever they want, but to do so they have to succeed according to social rules and educational standards. Social media has only come to police the looks, words and actions of girls with more viewers, but the rules are the same. Girls are still taught to put the needs of others before their own, to “look pretty” and “speak well.” Teenage girls who believe that adults – parents, teachers, neighbors – do not care about approval and acceptance should think again.

Teenage girls seem to be self-confident but fear conflict

In 2019, alongside Education For the charity The Female Lead, I interviewed teenage girls in the UK about their goals, aspirations and fears. The girls have reached the highest level Goals They represent the feisty, thriving teenagers we want to see for academic success and careers, and in many ways. But when they did, they explained Gilligan’s dilemma. What they fear most is conflict with others. What is most admired by others is “courage,” or the ability to speak up and take a stand. [5]

A recent large-scale survey in the United States found that 46 percent of girls “don’t speak their mind or disagree with others because they want to be liked.” [6] What’s even more alarming is that when girls meet traditional measures of success, such as achieving a high grade point average, this percentage rises to 62 percent. According to Tara Christie Kinsey of the Hewitt School (who is partnering with Gilligan on the new study on girls), “High-achieving girls in the United States are most concerned about the outside approval of others. Pressured to have a voice or connect, many girls remain silent; Going together to communicate With people whose behavior, beliefs and values ​​do not match their own.”

Masking a person’s actual voice is known to be a costly cognitive load. That is why some therapists can help especially when Treatment It involves meeting them “where they are and [taking] according to their word.” [7] Gilligan’s research may help girls before their problems become clinical. All teachers, therapists and parents need is to rediscover the framework, theory and practice they have lost.

To find a therapist, Visit the Psychology Today Medical Directory.


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