Women’s Health Week, which begins on 5 September, is an opportunity to focus on the fact that women experience some mental health conditions at higher rates than men.
According to Beyond Blue, about one in six women in Australia will experience depression and one in three will experience anxiety during their lifetime. Women also experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and eating disorders at higher rates than men.
Beyond Blue reports: “Depression and anxiety can affect women at any time in their life but there is an increased chance during pregnancy and the year following the birth of a baby.
“Up to one in 10 women experience depression while they are pregnant and one in six experience depression during the first year after birth. Anxiety conditions are thought to be as common with many women experiencing both conditions at the same time.”
Other factors that can impact women’s mental health include caring for or supporting others; relationship breakdown; violence or abuse; discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity; infertility and perinatal loss; and menopause.
The National Women’s Health Strategy 2020–2030 identifies five main strategies for improving mental health among women.
The first is to enhance gender-specific mental health education, awareness and primary prevention. This can include measures such as working with schools to screen young girls and adolescents who may be at high risk.
The second is to focus on early intervention, diagnosis, integration and access to mental health care services. Steps include investing in an expansion of community mental health services to focus on diagnosis, early intervention and integration of services.
The third strategy recognises the need to invest in service delivery for priority populations, such as groups with lower access and greater need.
And the fourth is to adopt a multi-faceted approach to support women and girls with eating disorders. This can include providing schools with easily accessible information about available services for students at risk of developing eating disorders
The final strategy is to raise awareness and embed practices to reduce stigma and discrimination associated with mental ill-health by educating the community on the appropriate use of language and by promoting positive mental health messaging through mobile and digital channels.
Women’s Health Week comprises events and online activities dedicated to the health of women, girls and gender-diverse people. Organisations are encouraged to host an event.
Find out more about Women’s Health Week.