Differences of sex and gender in mental illness

Why do women suffer from depression more often than men? Why does schizophrenia affect more men than women? Should men and women be treated differently for mental illness?

That's the question that will be addressed by the researchers and students who participate in the first Scientific Day of the Chair on Sex, Gender and Mental Health from the Institute of Gender and Health (IGH), one of the 13 Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The event will be held at Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital on Friday, March 27, 2009. "Over the years, the various studies conducted on mental illness have not taken into account the differences of sex and gender. Knowing that the majority of studies were conducted with male participants, it is very interesting to review the results while considering the social and biological differences between the two sexes," explains Sonia Lupien, PhD, scientific director of the Fernand-Seguin Research Centre of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital and holder of the new Chair on Sex, Gender and Mental Health. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research are proud to fund research projects which aim to improve quality of life of people who's grappling mental health problem, according their sex and gender, explains Joy Johnson, PhD, scientific director of the Institute on Gender and Health of CIHR. "Every cell in the human body is 'sexed,' and that's why we need to better understand how biological differences between the sexes impact on responses to pharmacological treatments and different types of therapy, among other things. Also, we have to understand the influence of gender in relation to health and the specific needs of men, women, girls and boys." During this day of exchange on the various issues in the field of mental health related to sex and gender, a number of speakers will present their views and inspire reflections:

  • Sylvana Côté, PhD, researcher, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre The Development of Sex Differences in Antisocial Behaviours: Possible Aetiologies and Intergenerational Transmission
  • Jens Pruessner, PhD, researcher, Douglas Mental Health University Institute Research Centre Sex, Gender, Hormones and the Brain
  • Meir Steiner, PhD, researcher, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario The Burden of Female-Specific Mood Disorders
  • Adrianna Mendrek, PhD, Fernand-Seguin Research Centre of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital Schizophrenia: Trapped in the Brain of the Wrong Sex?
  • Aline Drapeau, Ph.D., Fernand-Seguin Research Centre of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital The Influence of Social Anchors on the Gender Difference in the Use of Mental Health Services

Free Lecture

To conclude this day devoted to the mental health of men and women, a public lecture will be given in French by Rose-Marie Charest, PhD, president of the Ordre des psychologues du Québec. Open to everyone, this free lecture will tackle this issue in a concrete manner and help raise public awareness of the realities of mental illness in women and men.

The Institute of Gender and Health (IGH)

The mandate of the IGH, one of 13 CIHR institutes, consists of supporting research on the way in which biological sex and gender (socio-cultural constructs) interact with other factors to impact on health and create different conditions with regard to risk factors and effective interventions for men and women in all stages of life. The IGH is comprised of researchers, scientists, community groups and private individuals from all over the world who are interested in questions related to health and gender.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

The CIHRs are government of Canada organizations that fund health research. Their objective is to develop new scientific knowledge and encourage its application in order to improve health, offer better health products and services and strengthen the Canadian health system. Comprised of 13 institutes, the CIHRs provide leadership and support for almost 12,000 health researchers and interns across Canada.

Fernand-Seguin Research Centre of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital

Supported by the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec, the Fernand-Seguin Research Centre of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital also enjoys a beneficial partnership with Rivière-des-Prairies Hospital and the Philippe-Pinel Institute of Montréal. On the cutting edge of knowledge, it is one of the most important mental health research sites in francophone Canada.

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