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J Behav Health Serv Res. 2009 Jul;36(3):372-84. doi: 10.1007/s11414-009-9168-0. Epub 2009 Feb 28.

The influence of social anchorage on the gender difference in the use of mental health services.

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  • 1Centre de recherche Fernand-Seguin, Université de Montréal, Pavillon Bédard - Unit 218, 7331 Hochelaga, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H1N 3V2.


Overall, women are more likely than men to seek professional care when they face light or moderate mental health problems. This difference is usually attributed to culture-related factors, but neither women nor men form a homogeneous cultural group. The help-seeking behavior may reflect not only the cultural values and expectations associated with a specific gender but also those associated with specific social roles endorsed by women and men. In addition, the influence of these culture-related factors on the help-seeking behavior is constrained by barriers to care, which apply similarly to women and men. In consequence, the gender difference in the use of mental health services should vary across social roles and types of service. This hypothesis was tested on data from the cycle 1.2 of the Canadian Community Health Survey. Logistic regression analyses show that, although women are more likely than men to use mental health services, this gender difference is larger for general services than for psychiatric and psychological services whose access in Canada is constrained, respectively, by systemic and financial barriers to care. They also suggest that holding the role of worker tends to foster the use of psychological services in women, especially in married women, and to a lesser degree in men, whereas it tends to hinder the use of general and psychiatric services in men but to exert no or less influence in women. Thus, professional anchorage seems to be an important source of the societal norms that influence the decision of women and men to seek or not to seek medical care for mental health problems.

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