Recently there has been an increasing demand of doctors specializing in mental health services. There is a difference between mental and physical health. When we talk about mental health we talk about problems such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and other related issues. And when we are talking about physical health, we are talking about issues like diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, hypertension, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and all the associated ailments.
Both the mental and physical health have been affected by gender discrimination. Researchers have looked at over a thousand cases of mental disorders. The results show that those who had been subjected to gender discrimination in the workplace are more likely to develop serious mental disorders. This has been corroborated by the press reports. Furthermore, there are many incidences of physical illnesses in the workplace which have been caused due to gender discrimination. The most common of which is cancer.
The National Association of Medical Assistants and the American College of Gynecologists have both raised issues over gender discrimination in the workplace. They have separately stated that the problem of gender discrimination is worse in the healthcare industry, with women making up the vast majority of the workforce.
One of the concerns is that healthcare workers are less likely to report physical illnesses at work because of fears of being ridiculed for their physical condition. Another is that physical illnesses are not recognized by employers and therefore are not appropriately covered. This leads to a loss in productivity, affecting the bottom line of both healthcare providers and employees alike. Furthermore, there is a lack of physical care in some medical facilities, leading to a rise in patient-related costs.
Is gender discrimination directly responsible for the rising level of mental health problems? There is no direct relationship between gender discrimination in the workplace and mental health, but it is assumed that such a connection exists due to the fact that both physical and mental health are affected by discrimination. Additionally, healthcare workers who suffer from physical conditions at the workplace are less likely to report health-related complaints. These problems include back pain, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
What about the impact of gender discrimination on overall health? According to the American mental health association, gender discrimination may lead to poorer mental health, greater disability, and an increased risk of suicide. Researchers estimate that this impact of gender discrimination is greater in the working population, where there is more gender biased treatment, and this is particularly true in specialized fields like radiology and oncology, where physical exams are a routine part of patient care.
The association further stated that, “physician input that is gender biased can have an effect on patients’ self-awareness and mental health.” Such discriminatory behavior also affects the mental well-being of patients, especially those with psychiatric conditions, depression, and other emotional disorders. Gender biased treatment also leads to under diagnosis and treatment for conditions that might benefit from early identification and treatment.
If you believe you are suffering from any of the mental conditions described above, or know someone who may be, it is important to speak out. Being affected by gender discrimination can have serious consequences; failing to protect your rights may lead to lesser levels of treatment, higher premiums, and less benefits.
Moreover, untreated mental health issues can lead to severe consequences; studies have shown that untreated mental health conditions are associated with increased hospital admissions, disability payments, and in some cases, death. As more attention is focused on the mental health of people of color and other vulnerable demographics, we can expect an increase in studies exploring the connection between discrimination and overall mental health.