Perception of a Woman: How Society Damages Girls’ Mental Health
Nuri is 17 years old and a Global G.L.O.W. participant from Detroit, Michigan. This is her essay in her own words:
As girls and women in today’s society, we are surrounded by the opinions and thoughts of others that can destroy one’s mental state. There are many ways for people to define what “mental health” means to them, but what does it mean to you, and why is it important?
To me, mental health is very important. When mental health is brought into a conversation, I sometimes get an overwhelming feeling as the words start flooding into my brain. I’ve learned that mental health is the emotional and psychical condition of a human being. If I don’t take care of my mental health, it could possibly lead to life-threatening conditions. There are a lot of people who think that the mental health of a woman is not important, nor should be a factor to consider in their life. This is where the silence needs to be broken.
Women previously had no rights, no voice, and were expected to look or behave a certain way. We’ve come quite far in treating women almost as equal as men, but why stop at almost? There will be a rude awakening for all of us if we don’t bring that “almost” to an equal playing field. If we don’t talk about women’s and girls’ mental health, society will be negatively impacted. The ideas, thoughts, and knowledge of a female is an energy source that helps this society function. Scientifically, women are more emotional than men, yet they are treated less than men and have to face more barriers and obstacles in society. There are girls all over the world from different backgrounds, and some of these girls are being taught that their mental health is not important. Unstable mental health can lead to poor decision-making and the inability to decipher the difference between healthy and unhealthy choices. It is imperative that we talk about women’s and girls’ mental health because we cannot take a step backward. Instead, we should be taking steps forward and encouraging women to express how they feel. They should not be afraid to speak up for themselves and what they are going through. Women should not be silenced, and will not be silenced.
There are a lot of factors to consider when something is affecting a female’s mental health negatively, but education is an important one. When girls move to a foreign country in order to pursue education, there is often a weight that she carries from her family or culture. A lot of the time, these young girls feel the pressure to be perfect. This is a major issue because this can be a damaging experience when the pressure of perfection is unattainable. Another example of a female experience that negatively impacts mental health is their period. Some people even have the courage to make a female feel embarrassed because she has a period. Why should females be scared, embarrassed, or ashamed of their period? Why should they be judged? A lot of females hate their bodies because they have to go through menstruation. They are being taught to hate their bodies, which causes them to think that something is wrong with them or that menstruating is gross. When females menstruate, it isn’t always easy for all of them. A lot of women have to deal with cramps but are afraid to speak up for themselves because they feel embarrassed and or ashamed. Simple things like having a period can cause a decline in a female’s mental health which is disappointing and frustrating.
“When girls move to a foreign country in order to pursue education, there is often a weight that she carries from her family or culture. A lot of the time, these young girls feel the pressure to be perfect.”
A woman’s mental health isn’t only affected by words, but also by a click of a button. That’s right, social media. Research indicates that women are on social media more than men, meaning they have a higher chance to be negatively affected by it. Social media can be a dangerous place for women and girls as there’s no way to escape the opinions and thoughts of others. Most of the time social media is a trap and unrealistic, but not all people will admit to that.
We live in a society that not only is surrounded by social media platforms, but by a worldwide pandemic that is affecting everyone in different ways. COVID-19 has caused many hardships amongst both men and women, but I feel as though women were hit the hardest. This pandemic has made life harder for women as they lost their jobs, are concerned about how to support their families, and are worried about if they are expecting a child or not. COVID-19 has taken a toll on females in ways that can’t always be expressed. It is hard to describe everything that has happened to a female during this pandemic.
Women need some kind of support in order to be healthy mentally. We, as a community, can uplift them and express that they are not alone. They have a support system where they are included no matter what. We as human beings, as fellow women, should show our sisters that we are capable of anything. I know there are a lot of women and girls in this world who are going through hardships and may not have the right kind of resources to help them. Someday there will be a change, a positive one for women and girls all around the world. We as a community need to raise awareness that the mental health of girls is crucial in order for them and this world to be successful. Girls are powerful, strong, and determined, but they need the right kind of help. Let’s work towards a positive change because I know that we as women can and will achieve whatever we desire.
Nuri wrote this piece as part of the Global G.L.O.W. OctobHER celebration. To hear more from girls around the world, visit our OctobHER landing page.