Gender Bias in Mental Health Services
Research,  Therapy,  Women

Gender Bias in Mental Health Services

While the stigma in and around topics of mental illness is gradually decreasing, mental health professionals are trying their best to give the most to the community in order to help them. However, a new research done Chamberlain (2020) states that there is a visible gender gap in referrals made to professionals. Boys get referred to psychologists more than girls for different mental health related services.

According to the study, the reason for the gap is that boys are more likely than girls to make their problems known and to call out for help. Girls, on the other hand, are more likely to internalise their problems or trauma, whereas the boys might act out and seek attention in times of distress.

The society and culture teach the girls and boys very different ways of dealing with their problems. Girls are told to seldom display their anger or frustration, to talk politely and to be accommodating. Boys are allowed to express themselves in many different ways without being reprimanded. These gender norms teach the girls to remain passive. When it comes to dealing with trauma and feelings, this passivity would mean that a girl child would have to endure a lot more alone before being noticed or crying out for help.

While girls and boys experience the same amount of stressful events through their lives, if their trauma is not treated at the right age, they are more likely to forget the root of her symptoms altogether, only escalating or complicating the trauma even more. The snowballing of such feelings with age and time, could lead to bigger problems in the future. A girl’s childhood trauma going unnoticed could also be one of the main reasons that women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with mental illnesses like depression in their adolescent years. (Robert, 2015)

Apart from having substantial effects on their mental health, the physical and social aspects of their lives will also be affected. Children who have been through traumatic experiences find it harder to adapt to new situations. Untreated trauma could lead to poor motor and lingual abilities, bad appetite and sleep, and aches in different parts of the body. It would also make it harder for the child to boost their social and self esteem. They might not develop the same kind of confidence or peer relations as other children of their age.

Trauma can have lifelong effects on a toddler. Therefore, it is extremely crucial to give children space to express, as well as to notice and act upon any sudden change in their behaviour. Communication and expression is key in such matters, and taking professional help would give the child more space to express and come to terms with their feelings.


Chamberlain, E. S. (2020). Girls’ invisible responses to trauma: The gender gap in counseLling referrals for school children. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 53. Retrieved from:

Robert, P. R. (2015). Why is depression more prevalent in women? Journal of Psychiatry& Neuroscience. doi:10.1503/jpn.150205

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