Sociology of mental health and illness

In response to Caroline’s suggestion I have been reading The Sociology Of Mental Health And Illness by Anne Rogers and David Pilgrim. Chapter 3 is particularly useful as it addresses Gender, sexuality and mental health.

I have gathered some very useful statistics and facts and arguments from this paper which may guide how we formulate our questionnaire and may help us to reach an end conclusion for this project. Some of which I will list below

  • Overall, women receive psychiatric diagnosis more often than men
  • certain diagnostics are gendered
  • ‘over-representation of women’ in psychiatric diagnosis cannot be generalised across the world
  • women’s social roles play a part in this over- representation
  • single status makes men more vulnerable to mental health problems than it does women
  • hyper-masculinity is culturally evident, it has been linked to raised levels of male suicidal action
  • hegemonic masculinity has a massive impact on rural areas such as farming communities and mental
  • there isn’t necessarily a direct relationship between experiencing symptoms and decisions to seek help
  • ‘help-seeking action may reflect not only the cultural values and expectations associated with a specific gender but also those associated with specific social roles adopted by women and men’
  • ‘sex differences in the seeking of help correspond to attitudinal differences; women are more likely to admit distress.. to define their problems in mental-health terms…and to have favourable attitudes towards psychiatric treatment’
  • many studies have chosen to study only women due to gender assumptions
  • women have greater contact with the health services for a greater variety of reasons such as health care for children
  • Patriarchal authority, which seeks out and labels women as mad, is responsible for the over-representation.
  • the stereotype of men being angry has a massive impact on how they are received and treated
  • ‘men are dealt with more harshly than women, this is especially the case to the interface between psychiatry and the criminal justice system
  • women take sick leave for minor psychiatric problems more often than men
  • the construct of depression is inconsistent with a notion of hypermasculinity
  • Gender and sexuality – Both gay men and lesbians present with more mental health problems than do heterosexuals and are more likely to abuse substances (King et al. 2003).

Finally, I have some questions that we might carry forward into our research.

  • To what extent are the societal structures such as mental health services, contributing to the reinforcement of stereotypes, or alternatively, are affecting men from limiting their emotions for different reasons, such as the assumptions of what can be provided from going to these services and expressing their emotions.
  • Have health check ups such as pregnancy, or other compulsary check-ups affected statistics which mean women are forced to express their emotions to professionals more reguarly than men.
  • How has the historical diagnosis of women’s mental health potentially limited men from expressing their own emotions or reinforced gender stereotypes?
  • how does sexuality affect the statistics?
  • to what extent is the research the outcome of gender assumptions in the first place? e.g. women only focus group

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