Gender Differences in Mental Health By Professor Jayashri Kulkarni

Posted on: July 4, 2019
Last Updated: November 24, 2023

Professor Jayashri Kulkarni became a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists in 1989. As the first Associate Professor/Director of Psychiatry to Dandenong Hospital in 1994, she founded and directed the Dandenong Psychiatry Research Centre (DPRC) and the Monash University Research Centre for Women’s Mental Health. She was Director of Psychiatry of Dandenong Area Mental Health Service (DAMHS) for  eight years and directs a large psychiatric research group in her current appointment as Professor of Psychiatry, The Alfred and Monash University.

Author Quotes 

The estimated economic impact of depression/anxiety in women in Australia in terms of thinking about the direct loss of productivity is estimated to be $22 billion per year.

It’s very clear that mental illness in women is gendered just like physical health is, and really, we need to understand and think about the gender of our patient when we are wearing our treating hat or wearing our research hat, or teaching.

I’m never trying to say that women are suffering more than men, or vice versa it’s actually about the difference, and once we can focus on that we can hopefully provide better outcomes.

Summary and slides  

Professor Kulkarni introduces this presentation with a discussion of gender differences in mental illness. 

Addressing social, biological, and psychological theories of gender differences in mental illness, clear differences are highlighted regarding violence, drug metabolism, and the psychological defense mechanism of men and women. 

Prof Kulkarni explains how we have gone backward in terms of the global social impacts in the last five years; how the behavior of global politicians and how the media portray women is affecting our younger generation. Laws in Russia have changed since 2017 easing punishment for domestic violence crime. 

Ending this video excerpt, she describes a recent march in Dublin, Ireland for reproductive rights for Irish women and how this is connected with mental health rights. 

Take-home Points  

  • 43% of Australian women (3.5 million) have experienced mental illness at some point in their lives (2007 National Survey); 22% compared with 18% of men experienced symptoms of a mental disorder in the past 12 months. 
  • Women are twice as likely as men to develop depression and anxiety disorders, to have PTSD, and to attempt suicide. 
  • There are social, biological, and psychological gender differences that impact on mental health. 


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