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Chartbook on Women and Disability

Section 5: Mental disorders and disability: Gender differences

5.2. Do women use more mental health services than men?

Using the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS) to measure lifetime prevalence and service use, researchers have found women more likely to seek treatment for mental disorders. Of women, 15 to 54 years, who reported an episode of psychiatric disorder in their lifetime, more than half (55.1%) had received mental health services. In contrast, 42.3% of men with an episode of mental disorder had received treatment. Of course, not all mental disorders are serious and some improve without treatment. In this survey, mental health services were defined broadly to include self-help groups, clergy, social workers, hotlines, spiritualists and herbalists as well as health providers such as physicians and psychologists. Nearly half of the women (46.6%) had sought help from a health service professional, compared to less than one-third of the men (31.5%). Women were also more likely to utilize human services providers, including social service agencies, religious counselors, hotlines and school counselors (24.2% versus 16.6%). Men were slightly more likely than women to use self-help groups (16% of men versus 14%). This may be related to men's higher substance abuse prevalence rates, as there are many self-help groups for substance abuse.

Women are more likely than men to receive treatment for mental disorders.

Vertical bar chart. Go to Data Table for Figure 23 for the data values shown in this chart.

Figure 23: Percentage of people with mental disorders who sought treatment, by gender and type of mental health provider

Data Table for Figure 23

Source: National Center for Health Statistics (1996).

Survey: National Comorbidity Survey, 1990-92

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