Gender differences in mental health have been the focus of much research and debate in several academic disciplines. This paper reviews the literature regarding the socio-cultural dimensions of women’s mental health in the United States. Feminist scholarship on mental health has followed two lines of inquiry. The first, a social causation approach, examines the features of women’s lives that enhance or undermine well-being. The social constructionist perspective involves critical analyses of methodology and conceptions of mental health and illness. This body of literature suggests that the findings of gender differences in mental health are artifactual and focuses on the sexism of psychiatry. Although these bodies of work have remained largely distinct and have been criticized as contradictory, both are important ingredients of a general feminist perspective on mental health. Feminist therapy is used as a model for a synthesis of approaches.
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