Mental Health Data
Demographic DataMental Health conditions and risk and protective factors vary by demographic characteristics. There are sex and age differences in the patterns, symptoms, age of onset, and course of development of mental health disorders. Young boys, for example, are more likely to exhibit aggression or antisocial behavior than are girls. Adolescent girls are more likely to develop eating disorders, depression, think about and attempt suicide. Girls tend to direct inward, boys to act out. Adolescent boys engage in more risky behaviors, have anger problems, and commit suicide more often.
For all ages men are more likely to die by suicide, women more likely to attempt suicide. Where people have concurrent multiple disorders (comorbidity), they tend to suffer more severe symptoms and disability. Comorbidity both for lifetime and past year are higher for women. Marital status is associated with mental health, positively or negatively. On the one hand, family and social support is an important protective factor. On the other, isolation and conflict are risk factors.
As adults women are more likely than men to be depressed and anxious, while men more often become addicted and have antisocial behaviors. Both genders are equally likely to develop schizophrenia or bipolar disorders. Earlier onset of schizophrenia is typical of men and severe form of bipolar disorder is more common among women.
In older adults, Alzheimer’s incidence is the same for each age cohort, but since there are more women than men at these cohorts age, there are more older women overall with this disease.
For women mental health issues are often related to reproductive biological factors . Social factors related to gender roles and cultural traditions and can also impact mental health, for example, emphasis on body image, degree of autonomy, ability to work and equity of pay can affect a person’s ability to thrive, which, in turn, affect mental health and ability to access care. Traditions that encourage male dependence upon females for everyday survival and that discourage men from expressing emotions increases risk of depression in the face of bereavement, especially loss of a spouse.
Issues of disparities between racial and ethnic groups, between rural and urban populations, and between person’s based on other characteristics, like immigration status, educational level, disability, religion, etc., lead to mental health issues and impact people’s ability to seek and receive care.
As described in the Introduction to the Mental Health Data section of County Profiles, substance abuse is a serious and all too common risk factor for mental illness. Substance abuse and addiction are associated with mental health consequences. A causative relationship exists between alcohol addiction and depression whereby greater involvement with alcohol raises risk of depression. (Boden & Fergusson 2011) Depression, in turn, raises the risk of addiction. (Lançon, 2010) Substance abuse is second only to depression in its association with suicide. (Saunders, 2008; CDC, 2009; AFSP, 2011a) and comorbidity of alcohol abuse and depression increases the risk (AFSP, 2011b) The rate of suicide deaths has been found to be associated with alcohol policy in studies done in Slovenia (Pridemore & Snowden, 2009) and in Ireland. There are shared risk factors among youth who die by suicide and those who die in alcohol-related accidents. (McKeon, 2011)
The following variables are relevant to mental health and are found elsewhere in the County Profiles. Please see also in this section:
World Health Organization. (2002) Gender and Mental Health. Retrieved 11-1-2011 from http://whqlibdoc.who.int/gender/2002/a85573.pdf