Women’s caring role can take a toll on their mental health

Anna Mooney.

The new "Out of Silence" report by the Women's Council of Ireland echoes international trends: women are twice as likely to be affected by depression and anxiety as men. And menopause plays a big part.

“Menopause has a very big impact on mental health. Oh my God, the shock of it. You’re told about the sweats but not told about the anxiety.”

“My mam would suffer from depression and instead of talking to her and giving her help, they just kept giving her tablets”.

“There is nothing within the health service to explain the experience of abuse when you are getting treatments. There is nowhere you can mark down what has happened to you.”

“Women are seen as crying wolf, their suicide attempts are dismissed.”

These are the voices of the National Women's Council of Ireland's just released report: Out of the Silence: Women's Mental Health in their own Words.

Women's vulnerability

Women are twice as likely to be affected by depression and anxiety as men, and Ireland has the highest rate for child suicide of girls in Europe. 

Against this backdrop, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) has launched a report ‘Out of Silence, Women’s mental health in their own Words’ at St Patrick's University Hospital, Dublin. Its findings dovetail with international reports on women's mental health.**

Based on conversations with over 100 women from across Ireland, the ‘Out of silence’ report documents for the first time the specific mental health needs of women and girls in Ireland.

Related article  The Suicide link to Perimenopausal Depression

Related article: Menopause Making You Anxious? Read Wellness Warrior Catherine O'Keeffe's advice

Giving women a voice

As the NWCI’s Women’s Health Coordinator Dr Cliona Loughnane, who co-authored the report, points out “Women’s voices are too often absent from the discussions on mental health in Ireland.  Our report  highlights women’s direct experiences, how they cope, how they keep themselves well and how they feel they could be better supported by services. Recent women’s healthcare scandals have shown the need to listen to women and use their experiences to inform health policies and the provision of services for women and girls in all our diversity.”

“Unfortunately, the findings of this project show that there are deficits in mental health provision for women. If we want to improve mental health outcomes for women, we must address issues such as women’s shame and guilt when speaking out, the fear of their children being removed when seeking support, depression, low self-esteem and long waiting lists for care.”

Multiple pressures on women

Dr Loughnane, speaking on RTE Today with Sean O'Rourke, highlighted an all too common scenario: the pressure on women to be the carers of the home, the children, spouse and parents, to be all all things to all people, and putting themslves at the end of the care list. She also highlighted the extra pressures of contemporary society to look good, to achieve in the workplace alongside these caring duties. 

More information on this story from the NCWI website.


Research evidence from epidemiological studies from the UK, US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand shows that women are up to 40% more likely than men to develop mental ill health; women are around 75% more likely than men to report having recently suffered from depression and around 60% more likely to report an anxiety disorder. 

See Freeman, D and Freeman J (2013) The Stressed Sex: Uncovering the Truth about Men, Women and Mental Health. Oxford University Press.


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