Women More Likely to Be Diagnosed with Mental Illness
Studies have found that women are more likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness than men. This is particularly true in the case of common mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Depression is twice as common in women and is the number one mental health problem suffered by women. Women are also twice as likely to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. But what are the reasons for the higher rate of diagnosis?
 
Gender Bias in Treatment
While women are more likely to get a diagnosis of mental illness, they are also less likely to have their symptoms taken seriously. Women are often discredited by health care providers and their symptoms thought to be exaggerated. While labels such as “hysterical” are no longer used to refer to women with mental health issues, there is still a bias in treatment. In addition, some women are diagnosed with mental illness even when their symptoms are physical. Serious health conditions such as autoimmune disorders are sometimes diagnosed by biased health care providers as anxiety or depression. 
 
Women More Likely to Suffer Trauma and Discrimination
Trauma is more common among women. One in four women has faced a completed or attempted sexual assault and one in three report being abused by a domestic partner. Trauma is a risk factor for a number of mental health issues including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The challenges of facing gender discrimination and mistreatment of women can also be factors in undermining a woman’s mental health. In addition the expectations placed on women to do more than their fair share of housework and childcare can lead to stress which is another risk factor for mental illness. 
 
Women More Likely to Report Symptoms and Seek Help
Unfortunately, men are socialized not to share their emotions and to view mental health challenges as a form of weakness. Men are less likely to seek help for their mental health issues and this can result in a lower rate of mental illness diagnosis. Women are more likely to seek help when they are suffering.
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If you or a loved one has a mental disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental illnesses. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.
Elizabeth Kelley
Criminal Defense Attorney
Elizabeth Kelley is a criminal defense lawyer with a nationwide practice specializing in representing people with mental disabilities. She is the co-chair of The Arc's National Center for Criminal Justice and Disability, has served three terms on the board of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and serves on the Editorial Board of the American Bar Association's Criminal Justice Section Magazine.  Learn more .
FREE E-Book! Families' Guide to Working with a Criminal Defense Lawyer

When your family member with a mental disability has been arrested or charged with a crime, it can be a confusing and challenging experience that leaves you unsure of where to turn for answers. Here are some key things families can do to help the defense attorney handling their case.
Representing People with Mental Disabilities: A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Best Practices Manual

Edited by Elizabeth Kelley, this book is available for purchase from The American Bar Association. It contains chapters devoted to a variety of issues confronted by people with mental disabilities in the criminal justice system such as Competency, Sanity, Malingering, Neuroscience, Jail and Prison Conditions, Working with Experts,and Risk Assessment. Chapters are written by academics, mental health experts, and criminal defense lawyers. In the Introduction, Elizabeth writes that "This is the resource I wish I had had many years ago."