Many conditions such as major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and somatic symptom syndrome predominantly affect women, with depression affecting twice as many women as men. In contrast, men are more than double as likely to develop alcohol dependencies than women. Although mental illness can affect anyone, it is important to recognize the disproportionate incidence of mental illness across genders, as well as to address the gender specific risk factors which contribute to this gap such as gender-based violence, socioeconomic disadvantage, and unequal social status. The WHO describes three factors which help to prevent the incidence of mental illness; having a sufficient sense of personal autonomy, access to mental health resources, and psychological support from loved ones.
While being at home, amidst the COVID19 pandemic, it may be easy to develop feelings of loneliness and anxiety. For many, this can exacerbate underlying mental illnesses such as depression. As research has shown that doctoral fellows have a higher incidence of mental illnesses than the general population, it is a critical time to support each other and promote resources to help maintain our mental health. To celebrate mental health awareness month, we started a series called “A Tip a Day for the Month of May”. Every day, we posted a piece of advice focused on maintaining mental health throughout the NY quarantine, as well as ways to stay productive and maintaining a sense of normalcy while working from home. This is a part of our ongoing effort to support our community and help destigmatize mental illness in STEM.