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Breaking Barriers: Unveiling Sociocultural Complexities In Women's Mental Health – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

Mental Health

In a pioneering initiative, the Gender Impact Study Center (GISC) at the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI) orchestrated an innovative three-day online certificate course on Gender and Mental Health. This comprehensive event served as a guiding light, bringing together esteemed speakers whose profound insights elevated the virtual discourse and sparked engaging discussions and presentations.

As the program chair and a Visiting Distinguished Professor at IMPRI, Professor Vibhuti Patel, a renowned expert in gender studies, she played a crucial role in shaping the discussions on women’s mental health. Throughout the program, Prof. Patel tirelessly emphasized the intricate interconnectedness of gender dynamics and mental well-being, drawing attention to her extensive career dedicated to unravelling social inequalities, mainly focusing on the profound impact of patriarchal structures on women’s mental health.

Unveiling the Sociocultural Tapestry of Women’s Mental Health

In a profound and insightful contribution to the program, Prof. Mala Ramanathan, associated with the Achuta Menon Center for Health Science Studies, SCTI MST, Thiruvananthapuram, unravelled the intricate sociocultural causes of mental health issues. Her expertise brought forth a nuanced exploration, enriching the discourse with a crucial layer of understanding. Prof. Ramanathan’s deep insights shed light on how systemic issues profoundly impact women’s mental well-being, emphasizing the need to recognize and address these complex societal challenges.

Recognizing the Significance of Systemic Issues:

Prof. Ramanathan initiated her presentation by laying a solid foundation, underscoring the critical role of systemic issues in the context of women’s mental health. Navigating through various elements such as socioeconomic status, prejudice, discrimination, social change, and urban stressors, she elucidated how these factors intricately contribute to the complexity of mental health problems faced by women. This nuanced understanding became the launching pad for a more comprehensive exploration of the challenges at the intersection of societal norms and mental health.

Drawing from her extensive experience, Prof. Ramanathan seamlessly integrated real-world examples, vividly portraying women’s multifaceted challenges. By contextualizing her insights within the broader societal framework, she encouraged participants to acknowledge the diverse factors influencing mental health outcomes.

Emphasis on Addressing Systemic Issues:

A pivotal aspect of Prof. Ramanathan’s discourse was her persistent emphasis on addressing systemic issues as a foundational step towards creating a supportive environment for women’s mental health. She passionately advocated for a collective effort, urging stakeholders to actively dismantle barriers rooted in socioeconomic disparities, societal prejudices, and urban stressors. This call to action was a rallying cry for societal transformation, emphasizing the collective responsibility to foster an atmosphere conducive to women’s mental well-being.

Prof. Ramanathan’s insights resonated as a catalyst for change, challenging the audience to move beyond theoretical discussions and actively contribute to reshaping societal structures that perpetuate mental health disparities. Her emphasis on collective responsibility underscored the interconnectedness of individual actions with broader societal outcomes.

Exploring the Life Cycle:

Intricately detailing the life cycle of an individual, Prof. Ramanathan provided a comprehensive overview, examining the journey from genetic inheritance to environmental stresses. Her holistic approach underscored the dynamic interplay of factors influencing mental health outcomes, offering a nuanced perspective considering both inherent and external elements. This exploration provided a valuable framework for understanding the intricacies of mental health challenges throughout various life stages, acknowledging the cumulative impact of societal factors on an individual’s mental well-being.

Through this exploration, Prof. Ramanathan illuminated the need for a life-course perspective in mental health discussions, challenging traditional models that often overlook the evolving nature of women’s mental well-being. By acknowledging the influence of genetic predispositions and environmental factors, she encouraged a more nuanced understanding of mental health as a dynamic and evolving aspect of an individual’s life.

Challenging Normalization of Unhealthy Practices:

Provoking thought with her insightful questions, Prof. Ramanathan delved into normalising unhealthy societal practices, prompting a critical reflection on prevailing norms. Her inquiry into societal attitudes towards mental health concerns challenged the status quo, encouraging a collective reckoning with ingrained practices that contribute to women’s mental health challenges.

The reflective aspect of her presentation sparked a dialogue on the broader societal responsibility of fostering a culture of mental well-being. Prof. Ramanathan’s questioning aimed at dismantling deeply ingrained norms and practices that contribute to the stigmatization of mental health, particularly in the context of women. This critical examination became a call for societal introspection, urging participants to reassess existing norms and actively dismantle societal barriers hindering women’s mental well-being.


In conclusion, Prof. Mala Ramanathan’s contribution emerged as a vital sociocultural dimension in the discussion, encouraging a broader and more nuanced understanding of mental health issues faced by women. Her insights illuminated the pervasive impact of systemic issues and societal norms, challenging stakeholders to participate actively in dismantling barriers and fostering an environment conducive to women’s mental well-being.

Prof. Ramanathan’s presentation stands as a testament to the complex interplay between societal factors and mental health, urging a collective and transformative approach to address the challenges faced by women in this domain. Her call for societal introspection and proactive engagement resonates as a compelling directive towards building a more supportive and inclusive mental health landscape for women. Prof. Ramanathan’s nuanced exploration becomes a cornerstone for future discussions and actions, urging a transformative shift in societal attitudes towards women’s mental well-being.

Acknowledgement: This article was published by Rehmat Arora, a Research Intern at IMPRI.

Read more event reports of IMPRI here:
Embracing Intersectionality: Transforming Women’s Mental Health Discourse
Navigating the Complexities of Mental Health: A Holistic Perspective

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