Home > Out of silence: women’s mental health in their own words.

National Women's Council of Ireland. (2018) Out of silence: women’s mental health in their own words. Dublin: National Women's Council of Ireland.

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We set out in the ‘Out of Silence – Women’s mental health in their own words’ project to centre women’s understanding of mental health – the things that keep women well, the social and community networks that support them and the services they turn to in times of difficulty.

In 2017/8 using NWCI’s ‘Out of Silence: Women’s Mental Health in Ireland’ film to frame our conversations, we engaged with diverse groups of women across the country to talk about their experiences of mental health and what supports their wellbeing.

This report focuses on the direct experiences of women in their own words. It was clear from the women we spoke to that their mental health is impacted by the gender inequality they encounter and by their life experiences. Clearly, how women move through the world and the experiences they face can influence the mental health issues they encounter and how they will seek support. In our conversations, women consistently talked about the challenges they faced, coping with multiple, intersecting demands on them – the need to ‘look good’, to achieve in work, to care for their family and to support their partners through their own hard times. Their stories further illuminate the impact of life events on women’s wellbeing. Many women spoke about experiences of trauma in their early life, or catastrophic events in adulthood which stayed with them and influenced how they felt throughout their lives. Women from marginalised communities, including migrant women and Traveller women, spoke about the impact of discrimination and very poor living conditions on their mental wellbeing.

Five key themes impacting women’s mental health emerged from across the conversations: women’s experiences of mental health; expectations of womanhood; social determinants of mental health; mental health at different life stages; and the diverse experiences of women. As the women participants spoke about their experiences of mental health and wellbeing, they began to identify areas which they felt should be prioritised to support women. We document the calls for change identified by the women who participated. These priorities, which participants felt would ensure women are better supported to enjoy wellbeing and to feel cared for during times of mental health difficulty, are grouped under four broad themes: prevention; training; adequate supports; and access to mental health services.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Report
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Harm reduction
November 2018
44 p.
National Women's Council of Ireland
Corporate Creators
National Women's Council of Ireland
Place of Publication

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