11 February 2024

Women in Mental Health Research

International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Historically, women have been significantly underrepresented in various scientific fields, including mental health research. Although there have been efforts to improve women's representation in recent years, progress has been slow.

Women of ADVANCE poster

Gender diversity in mental health research is crucial yet often overlooked. In 2023, a group of researchers have raised concerns about how gender inequity may narrow the scope of research and innovation, citing that relevance of research questions on mental health studies can be problematic when the gender composition of researchers does not reflect that of the study population. 

Read ”Gender (in)equity in global mental health research: A call to action”

Studies have shown that women are more susceptible to depression and anxiety than men, and are more frequently involved in caregiving for relatives with mental health issues. Getting the perception of women about women in a gender balanced research team can ask more pertinent questions and develop more suitable solutions.

Recognizing this, ADVANCE participates to the growing movement to ensure that women are more represented in research roles in mental health. Currently, about 67% of ADVANCE's consortium members, including early and senior-level researchers and staff, are women. Additionally, 6 out of the 13 task leaders of ADVANCE are women, ensuring balance in research discussions and in setting the overall research agenda of the project.

In celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we interviewed 15 of our researchers to hear about how they got into studying mental health and their advice for women and girls who want to get involved in this important work.

Global demand for good researchers

Marit Sijbrandij emphasizes the global need for committed mental health researchers, a sentiment also echoed by Eleonora Prina who believes it's an opportune time to enter the field. They encourage aspiring researchers to pursue top-notch training and seek mentorship from experienced professionals in both research and clinical practice.





There is no one right approach in mental health. Always listen.

Melanie Mack,  Maritta Välimäki, and Maria Castaner remind us of the complexity within mental health and wellbeing, highlighting the importance of an open-minded and respectful approach toward the unique experiences of each individual.







Mental health scholars come in many shapes and sizes

The field of mental health research is broad and interdisciplinary. Amber Brizar, Raquel Teixeira, Austeja Dumarkaite, and Andrea Bidoli all underscore the value of exploring various aspects of mental health, from clinical practice to policy-making, and the significant contributions that can be made by individuals from diverse backgrounds. 









Keep your passion burning

Yu-Rou Tsai, Manuela De Allegri, Maija Satamo, and Hoa Thi Nguyen speak to the importance of persistence and holding on to what got you started in the face of challenges. 









Do not forget to take care of your own mental health

Lastly, Sanne Feenstra and Agniete Kairyte reminded us to walk the talk and make sure to also prioritise your own mental health and wellbeing.





Mental health is a complex, interdisciplinary field. With the increasing recognition that mental health has become one of today's most pressing challenges, the call to action is resounding: more women and girls from all disciplines are urged to join the ranks of those addressing mental health. The diversity of thought, experience, and expertise you bring can not only challenge existing paradigms but also pave the way for more equitable, effective, and compassionate mental health innovation.

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Joyce Anne Quinto
Project and Communications Manager

EU EmblemThe ADVANCE project has received funding from the EU Horizon Programme under Grant Agreement No. 101080323. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the Health and Digital Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.


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