The mental health of women and girls is endangered when they experience violence and gender-based discrimination, including poor access to education and lack of autonomy in the family and broader community. The conditions of conflict and poverty that foster violence against women, including systematic sexual violence, are growing across some world regions including parts of Africa and Asia, even while women are becoming more empowered in others. The prevalence of abuse of women at home appears to be high across the regions, and the widespread nature of other forms of violence such as genital mutilation and trafficking is increasingly recognised.
The psychological consequences of violence increase the risk of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, including the risk of these conditions in the perinatal period. The services provided for women with mental ill health in primary health care, maternal and child health services, community mental health services or hospital settings do not in many places respond adequately to their needs. The inadequacies in response can reproduce or amplify the difficulties and injustices that women face in their lives, especially maltreatment as girls and intimate partner violence as adults.
The World Psychiatric Association aims to increase awareness of the need for improved mental health of women and girls worldwide, especially in settings of disadvantage, conflict and adversity. It is also aiming to work in partnership with other health and non-health organisations to develop a platform for action to respond to the need – for health promotion, risk reduction and access to prevention and treatment services.
The author has not supplied his declaration of competing interest.