What Are the Obstacles to Treatment for Women With Mental Health Issues?

October 12, 2017 - - 0 Comments What Are the Obstacles to Treatment for Women With Mental Health Issues?

For many women with mental health issues, seeking and getting appropriate treatment at mental health facilities for women involves overcoming several barriers and obstacles, largely due to commonly held misconceptions towards this vulnerable group.  Many of the barriers are largely down to the attitudes of women sufferers themselves and are perpetuated their state of mind; some are generated by society and others exist within treatment programs. Overcoming women’s mental health problems is a journey that requires 100% commitment and unconditional support from loved ones to enable the sufferer to break down the barriers before them.

Finding Treatment

Compared with their male counterparts, women with mental health problems are usually at a socioeconomic disadvantage when it comes to seeking treatment. They are more likely to be underemployed or unemployed due to childcare commitments and are largely reliant on the income of a partner or government benefits to support them financially. If a woman has no financial means of her own, this can present a problem when trying to budget for treatment in mental health facilities for women if she has no financial independence.

However, women are also more prone to turning to substances to self-medicate symptoms of depression or anxiety and can develop a belief that they are able to cope better under their influence. This can present an obstacle to getting specific treatment for women’s mental health, particularly if a woman appears to be coping with her illness and is presenting a front to loved ones that everything is fine. Before diagnosis, many women feel the symptoms of their illness are responses to stress and that once things get less stressful, they’ll return to good mental health.

The main obstacle to finding mental health treatment for women is their sense of isolation combined with an unwillingness to openly admit to there being an issue at all. Open communication is a vital part of effective mental health treatment for women and should start from the moment she is able to reach out to a loved one or a professional for help. Internalizing painful emotions is more common among women than men and if there are underlying mental health issues, this can lead to serious long-term health issues if left untreated.

Social Barriers

There still remains considerable social stigma towards women with mental health issues, despite our better understanding of depression and anxiety as illnesses. Attitudes towards women who are also caregivers are even harsher and in many cases, families and communities fail to give the support so desperately needed including help with childcare and encouragement to seek professional treatment.

Women are very susceptible to the influence of those close to them, particularly relationship partners and parents, and they can become overly concerned about their disapproval should they reach out to them for help with their mental illness. Mothers, in particular, may be worried that they’ll lose custody of their children if they bring their issues out into the open or if they have to attend a mental health retreat for women.

For many women, paying for treatment may be an issue if they don’t have any insurance because they’re unemployed. Even getting to treatment can be a problem if they are unable to afford public transport and don’t own a car. Fortunately, most mental health retreats for women have childcare available but there’s still a financial element a woman seeking treatment will have to cover herself.


There are numerous reasons why it is much harder for women to get help for their mental illness than it is for men. That said many of the barriers are perceived and are more based on attitudes than fact; women fear the responses of others whereas those that love them will be eager to support them. The fact is that all barriers and obstacles to mental health treatment can be overcome once a woman reaches out for help. The important thing is to get to that stage.

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