Examining Gender Differences in Mental Health

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

Mental health conditions impact all genders—but how they present may differ depending on gender. In addition, strong sociocultural forces—like the saying “Boys don’t cry”—can impact social and emotional development in kids. Variations in symptoms, coupled with differences in how genders are expected to display their emotions, can cause some conditions to go undetected.

How can we encourage kids of all genders to express emotion and how they’re mentally feeling? Where are these differences most impactful in mental health diagnoses and treatment? And how can we help break the stigma around children expressing how they’re truly feeling?

Audience Questions

Roberto Olivardia, PhD, discusses the impacts of stereotyping on mental health, highlights differences in presentation of mental illnesses between genders, and answers audience questions on how to be supportive of kids and their mental health.

  • Why is it important to address differences in gender when addressing mental health and mental health conditions?
  • Can you talk about your experiences with prevalence of conditions between genders based on what you’ve seen in your patient populations, both in research and in your practice?
  • Do you have examples of some behaviors that may point to a mental health condition, but could be overlooked as being “typical” of one’s gender?
  • How can parents and caregivers address stereotypes or cliches about genders to help their children healthily express their thoughts and emotions?
  • Are you familiar with gender-specific risk factors that may make someone more susceptible to poor mental health?
  • Why are eating and dysmorphic disorders so often overlooked in those who identify as male? How can we reduce stigma around these conditions in boys and men?
  • How can we help normalize boys and men seeking mental health help?
  • Could you speak to how mental health stereotypes can impact intersex and transgendered people as well?
  • Do you think there will be more research and discussion in the future that focuses on nonbinary individuals, versus research being classified as male or female?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.

About Dr. Olivardia

Roberto Olivardia, PhD, conducts diagnostic evaluations at The Pavilion at McLean Hospital. He maintains a private practice in Lexington, Massachusetts, where he specializes in the treatment of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), as well as issues that face students with learning disabilities. He is a nationally recognized expert in eating disorders and body image problems in boys and men.

Dr. Olivardia is co-author of The Adonis Complex. He specializes in evidence-based psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral treatment. He currently serves on the Professional Advisory Boards for Children and Adults With ADHD (CHADD), The Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), and serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for ADDitude. He has spoken on numerous webinars and presents at many talks and conferences around the country.

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Originally aired on March 14, 2022