5 Reasons to Consider a Women’s Only Mental Health Facility
Many women are choosing to receive mental health care in facilities designed specifically for them. The experience of mental illness is highly individualized, but there are also important differences that can be generalized to men and to women. If you or someone you care about is struggling, consider choosing a treatment center that works only with female patients. This kind of facility can help you truly focus on your own needs, make you feel safer and more comfortable, and provide you with the expertise and tools needed for a good outcome.
Men and women are different in many ways: biologically, psychologically, behaviorally, and more. Women experience mental health in unique ways with important differences from men in symptoms, diagnosis, and prognosis. This means that treatment approaches need to be different too.
The most important factor in getting good mental health care is to ensure that your treatment plan is tailored to your specific, individual needs, regardless of gender. But also important is that your treatment is relevant to you as a woman.
What Is Gender-Specific Mental Health Treatment?
Gender-specific treatment is simply receiving care with women or men only. Treatment centers just for women are not uncommon, and are popular with patients for many reasons. Individual, outpatient care is not relevant to this discussion, but if you are searching for a treatment facility for residential care, you can select a location that works only with female patients.
These facilities are just like other residential treatment centers in that they offer a range of mental health experts and types of therapy, medical care, and alternative treatments. The only difference is that all your fellow patients and residents are women.
The Benefits of Choosing Treatment From a Women’s Only Facility
There are a lot of reasons you may have personally for choosing a treatment center that only works with women patients. But if this is a possibility you didn’t know existed or hadn’t considered, it’s important to learn more about it and how you can benefit as compared to getting treatment in a co-ed facility.
1. Feel Safer as a Victim of Trauma and Abuse
Both men and women experience trauma and both need safe places to recover and heal for the most positive outcomes. But women are more likely to be traumatized by violence perpetrated by men, which puts them in a unique situation during recovery. While no specific gender is safe from traumatic experiences, women generally have more serious consequences. For example, the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in men is five to six percent. In women it is 10 to 12 percent.
Overall, men experience more trauma than women, but women are more likely to be victims of violence, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and repeated sexual abuse. This may explain the higher rates of PTSD in women. Sexual abuse and assault are more likely to trigger PTSD as compared to other types of traumatic experiences.
In terms of treatment, what these facts mean is that women often feel more comfortable and safer when surrounded by other women. Being around men may trigger difficult memories or even flashbacks. A co-ed treatment facility may be just as safe as a women-only facility, but what is most important is a patient’s perception of being secure and safe.
2. Benefit From Fewer Distractions and a Greater Focus on You and on Healing
Being around men in treatment can be a distraction, despite your intentions and efforts to focus on your own personal growth and healing. Many of the ways we experience distractions in a co-ed setting are not even conscious.
Many women are less willing to engage or to make themselves vulnerable when men are a part of the process, which limits healing. Whether or not you feel now as if the presence of men would distract from your treatment, consider how much more focus would be on your own personal healing if they weren’t even part of the equation.
3. Get Expertise for Women’s Unique Needs
There are major, important differences in mental illness in men and women. These include the types of conditions experienced, the symptoms, response to treatment, onset of illnesses, and the course and outcome. The best care for female patients is in a facility that recognizes these differences and staffs experts in working with women. Some examples of how men and women differ include:
- Women are more likely to struggle with anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
- Girls and women have more frequent suicidal thoughts and attempt suicide more often.
- Severe mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, occur at equal rates in men and women, but the symptoms typically begin later in women.
- Women with bipolar disorder experience more depression and more severe symptoms generally.
- Women have higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder after experiencing trauma.
- Hormonal differences mean that women have unique mental health needs during certain times of life, including postpartum and during or after menopause.
- Women have higher rates of co-occurring conditions, which complicates treatment and outcomes.
All of these differences, and more, mean that women have unique needs in health care as compared to men. While there are excellent facilities that treat men and women together, the most specialized care will be in a treatment center that focuses on women only.
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4. Use Treatment and Coping Strategies Designed for Women
How men and women respond to having a mental illness and to treatment is different. A big part of having the expertise of professionals who work with women is benefitting from strategies designed to be more effective for female patients.
For instance, while men are more often aggressive or impulsive when trying to cope with mental illness, women are more introspective and internally-focused. Women tend to ruminate and internalize negative feelings. This can lead to depression and anxiety. The coping mechanisms for these two very different responses should be completely unique.
For women, coping strategies that involve meditation and mindfulness and that focus on empowerment rather than self-blame can be useful. This can be a way to harness that natural instinct to internalize and make it more positive and beneficial. Women may also benefit more from creative therapies that help them express and externalize their negative feelings.
5. Relate Better to Your Peers in Treatment
An important part of treatment in a residential facility is the experience of community and social interaction. Sharing experiences, making new friends, and practicing new relationship-building skills as you heal together are essential to care, healing, and moving forward with your life after treatment.
It is certainly possible to get all these benefits at a co-ed facility, but the truth is that women relate to each other better. You have more shared experiences and pasts that men don’t understand as well. With other women you will be more likely to relate and form important bonds that contribute to a positive outcome from treatment.
There are many good treatment facilities available that can help you heal and recover from trauma and mental illness. Those that are focused solely on the needs of women will provide the most benefits and the most efficient and effective treatment strategies.
Helix Treatment Center’s innovative childhood trauma and mental health treatment program was was founded on the philosophy that an intensive, integrative, and holistic therapeutic program is the best way to help people recover from psychological distress. We offer a tranquil space to restore emotional and behavioral health and stability in a safe, private, and comfortable environment at our six-bed Joint Commission accredited facility nestled in the beautiful Mt. Helix area of San Diego.
Contact us to learn more about our program and how we can help you or your loved one start on the path to lasting wellness.