Women May Be More Comfortable Seeking Mental Health Support Than Men

Dr. Flora I Matheson PhD Centre for Research on Inner City Health St. Michael's Hospital Toronto, ON, CanadaMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Flora I Matheson PhD
Centre for Research on Inner City Health
St. Michael’s Hospital
Toronto, ON, Canada

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Matheson:

  • We found that women were 10 per cent more likely to use mental health services than men.
  • And that within any 3-year period, women with physical illness used medical services for mental health treatment 6 months earlier than men.

MedicalResearch: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Matheson: The finding that women with physical illness sought care earlier than men with physical illness was unexpected and one not previously reported.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Matheson: The findings could point to something positive – that women are more comfortable seeking mental health support than men.

Or the findings may reflect that symptoms are women for worse among women so that women to seek help sooner.

Or they might mean that men defer seeking treatment for mental health concerns.

So, we still have much to learn about the relationship between physical illness and onset of use of medical services for mental illness.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Matheson: I think the findings suggest that there is an opportunity to provide more comprehensive care for patients with physical health problems. For example, a physician, social worker, or nurse who is aware that patients with a physical health condition will often later seek care for mental health concerns could be proactive and within routine appointments, check in with patients on their mental health state. Given that men are less likely to seek care for mental health concerns in general touching base with male and female patients is equally important.

The lead author is currently exploring the complex relationship between problem gambling, mental illness, drug/alcohol abuse and homelessness. This is a qualitative study designed to understand how problem gambling is linked to homelessness among men who are experiencing or have experienced mental illness and drug/alcohol abuse. She is also exploring issues of brain injury among people who enter the prison system in Canada to understand whether brain injury is a risk factor for incarceration, and if it affects the ability of those with a previous brain injury to adapt to the prison environment.

Physical health and gender as risk factors for usage of services for mental illness

Flora I Matheson, Katherine L W Smith, Ghazal S Fazli, Rahim Moineddin, James R Dunn, Richard H Glazier

J Epidemiol Community Health jech-2014-203844Published Online First: 25 June 2014 doi:10.1136/jech-2014-203844


Last Updated on July 1, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD