Are UK women heading for a mental health crisis?

Almost a third of women over the age of 18 have taken anti-depressants according to research, which reveals ‘generations of women in crisis’ with mental health problems.

A recent survey of more than 2,000 women in England and Wales reports that approximately two-thirds have experienced mild to moderate mental health problems.

At least 13% of those suffering with mental health complications had quit a job, while 44% had taken more than a week off work for reasons ranging from of low self-esteem, poor self-confidence and stress.

‘Millions of girls and women are facing mental health problems and they are telling us that they are not getting the support they need,’ says Penny Newman, chief executive of Platform 51.

‘Our study reveals generations of women in crisis. Women are the linchpins of their families and their communities, and if three in five of them aren’t meeting their potential, they lose out, their family and friends lose out, and so does the wider society.’

An NHS report last year revealed around 20% of women in England suffer from a common mental disorder, typically depression or anxiety, compared with only 12% of men.

‘Many women appear to be functioning normally or coping adequatelywith particularly difficult situations when in fact they are struggling to cope,’ continues Newman.

The study revealed that women suffering from mental health issues try to cope with their distress in damaging ways with 25%turning to alcohol while more than a quarter isolate themselves from their friends. One in five built up debt, and 35% self-harmed.

Mental health groups have welcomed the report and Simon Lawton-Smith, of the Mental Health Foundation says: ‘Mental disorders among middle-aged women have been on the rise in the last two decades. They are now the group most at risk of mild to moderate mental health problems.’

Behind heart disease, depression is expected to become the world’s biggest health problem by 2020, according to the World Health Organisation.

So if you’re feeling like the world is against you, remember you’re certainly not alone. For help and advice on mental health problems contact SANE on 0845 767 8000 or visit their website for support.

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