Men and women use mental health services differently

Women with chronic physical illnesses are more likely to use mental health services than men with similar illnesses; they also seek out mental health services six months earlier than those same men, according to new study from St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

"Chronic physical illness can lead to depression," said Dr. Flora Matheson, a in the 's Centre for Research on Inner City Health. "We want to better understand who will seek mental health services when diagnosed with a chronic physical illness so we can best help those who need care."

The findings, published today in the British Medical Journal's Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, looked at people diagnosed with at least one of four physical illnesses: diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Researchers found that among those with at least one of these four illnesses, women were 10 per cent more likely to use than men. Furthermore, within any three-year period, women with physical illness used medical services for mental health treatment six months earlier than men.

"Our results don't necessarily mean that more focus should be paid to women, however," said Dr. Matheson, who is also an adjunct scientist at ICES. "We still need more research to understand why this gender divide exists."

The results may imply that women are more comfortable seeking mental health support than men. Alternatively, the gender discrepancy might mean that symptoms are worse among women, requiring more women to seek help and sooner, or that men defer seeking treatment for mental health concerns.

The study used data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, physician claims and inpatient medical records from ICES. Mental illness service use was defined as one visit to a physician or specialist for mental health reasons, such as depression, anxiety, smoking addiction or marital difficulties.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Depression and mental health services usage

Sep 30, 2013

More than half the people in Ontario who reported they had major depression did not use physician-based mental health services in the following year, a new study has found.

Recommended for you

Some people may be pre-wired to be bilingual

38 minutes ago

(HealthDay)—Some people's brains seem pre-wired to acquire a second language, new research suggests. But anyone who tries to move beyond their mother tongue will likely gain a brain boost, the small study ...

Elderly brains learn, but maybe too much

9 hours ago

A new study led by Brown University reports that older learners retained the mental flexibility needed to learn a visual perception task but were not as good as younger people at filtering out irrelevant ...

Inpatient psychotherapy is effective in Germany

12 hours ago

Sarah Liebherz (Department of Medical Psychology, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf) and Sven Rabung (Institute of Psychology, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt) have examined 59 studies conducted between 1977 ...

A game changer to boost literacy and maths skills

14 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Finding the best way to teach reading has been an ongoing challenge for decades, especially for those children in underprivileged areas who fail to learn to read. What is the magic ingredient that will ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.