This International Women’s Day 2022, we highlight the resilience and strength of women.
Women are leaders, mentors, mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, aunties, grandmas and friends. They are our confidants, our teachers and keepers of knowledge.
There are 12.6 million women in Australia and each share experiences and life transitions that are unique to being female which are connected to their mental health and wellbeing.
When responding to the mental health and wellbeing of women and girls we need to consider the impacts of those factors that are unique for women including reproductive health, pregnancy, motherhood, and menopause.
It is also important to recognise the social and environmental factors that can contribute to additional burdens for women and girls leading to negative mental health and wellbeing including, discrimination, inequality and inequity, poverty, online, family, domestic and sexual violence and abuse, and homelessness.
We must also consider the impacts on women and girls that are shared with others including caring responsibilities, social and cultural expectations, and other detrimental life experiences such as body image pressure, infertility or perinatal loss.
Around 1 in 6 women in Australia will experience depression and 1 in 3 women will experience anxiety during their lifetime. Postpartum depression impacts 1 in 6 women during their first year after birth. Women also experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and eating disorders at higher rates than men.
The additional pressure of dealing with COVID-19 has also shown that women have had a heightened negative experience as a result. In 2020-21, women were more likely to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress than men.
While women are more likely to report their experiences of mental ill-health than men, we must continue to recognise and respond to the differences in health outcomes.
Recognising that certain groups within society are more at risk of poor health and wellbeing as a consequence of social and environmental factors is a vital step in eliminating inequality. By being aware of how our society contributes to negative mental health outcomes for women, we can begin to create solutions and ensure that all people are supported to live a contributing life in a thriving community.