About Gender Data Gaps in Mental Health

The Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 on Mental Health
Social norms, inequalities, and physiological differences increase women’s mental health burden. Yet significant gaps in global mental health data prevent professionals and policymakers from properly addressing this hidden, costly issue.

COVID-19 has placed a disproportionate burden on women as unpaid work demands such as childcare and care for the sick have increased. At the same time, women hold one in three essential jobs, putting them on the front lines and at greater risk of infection. These increased responsibilities have placed significant pressure on women’s mental health.

Collecting this missing data is imperative to improving mental health policy, resource planning, and treatments that can save lives and decrease the physical and economic toll of untreated distress.

Imagine a world in which gender and cultural diversity do not prevent women and girls from receiving the care they need. In pursuit of a more equitable future, the first Gender Data Gap Challenge will focus on collecting, understanding, and using culturally specific data on women’s mental health.

Please share your feedback on the overall prize idea here.

In principle this is a great idea. How about trying to get the United Nations to declare an International Year of Womens Health? There could be a special group of projects to address mental health and physical safety for women. A lot of women’s mental health problems are related to men feeling threatened by women doing anything different whether it be going to school, driving a car, wanting the right to control when they have children etc. So the projects that will work will improve men’s health or wealth or other things that matter to men because otherwise we have a zero-sum game situation and that is going to be a calamity.

I think the gendered impact of the covid pandemic (and the restrictions imposed during the pandemic) is an important topic that deserves attention indeed. I do wonder whether defining the ‘gender gap’ only as a disadvantage for women is not too narrow. The inequalities for women are absolutely there and need to be studied - yet if there is a domain in which I think inequalities for men need to be looked in as well, I think mental health is important as there are also important inequalities for men in this area. Research has documented how gender norms impose strict rules on men to be tough and conceal their emotions, which actually puts a strong burden on men and keeps them from seeking (formal or informal) help in difficult times. This is related to men’s higher numbers of alcoholism, drug use, violence, risk behaviors and suicide (which in turn of course affects women when you think of violence for instance). See this review paper for some more info and references. Without wanting to take away from the importance of inequalities of the covid period for women, it could be an idea to keep the challenge open to any kind of gender gap?

@LMeeussen - Welcome Loes! We’re excited to have you join our online community of experts.

Thank you for sharing your perspective on Gender Data Gaps in Global Mental Health challenge and the review paper.

It would be great to hear your thoughts on this latest discussion topics:

  1. What data types are essential that will help practitioners better understand, predict, and treat postpartum depression? Share you thoughts here
  2. How to assess the validity of data points and measurements for data collected from social media and apps? Join the discussion here.