16 Mar Women’s Mental Health and Wellbeing
Women and gender diverse people experience chronic illness and mental health issues different from men. These differences are linked to:
- Gender bias experienced from childhoods, through education and in workplaces
- Gender based violence, both in the personal (domestic and intimate partner violence) and public realm (assault by a stranger)
- Reproductive health issues in a medical space that has systemic gender bias
- Economic insecurity attributable to the gender pay gap, despite the fact that though women make up over half the Australian workforce, exacerbated by unpaid domestic labour
- Demands on women linked to caregiving, despite making up approximately half the workforce, women are typically more likely to be primary care givers for the young and elderly
Women experience more mental health issues in Australia than men, due to their decreased access to healthcare, misdiagnoses, and mistreatment, exacerbated by economic inequity and gender-based violence. In Australia, women suffer disproportionately from violence, both domestic and in the public space. This then contributes to increased susceptibility to related chronic conditions, both mental health and physical, and increases risk to developing disabilities.
Women and their children are increasingly escaping family violence, driving them into homelessness. This can have significant impact on women’s mental, emotional, physical health and wellbeing, rippling its effect intergenerationally. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women specifically experience higher levels of gender-based violence, relative to Caucasian Australian women.
One in six women in Australia experience depression and 1 in 3 will experience anxiety during their lifetime. Women also experience PTSD and eating disorders at higher rates than men.
The history of women’s healthcare has been riddled with shame, neglect, disrespect, and poor quality toward women seeking help. It is important that women are able to move forward in this area, accessing good quality healthcare that is founded upon respect, compassion, non-judgement and evidence-base treatments.
“Women’s health services deliver gender appropriate, affordable, and accessible programs and care because they are designed by women, for women, to meet the health needs of women.” – Australian Women’s Health Network
It is important that women seek support in places and with people that understand the gendered inequity.
There are some steps women can take to support themselves:
Get the right support for you
Find healthcare professionals that you trust and treat you with respect and dignity. Don’t settle for just anyone; the difference between trusting and feeling comfortable with your support network is tenfold. Find the right support that is true for you. If you are gender diverse, ensure you are receiving the care you deserve from inclusive practitioners.
Advocate for yourself
Speak up for yourself if you’re not comfortable. Sometimes this can feel intimidating and scary but you are entitled to great quality healthcare that is right for you. If you are unsure, get a second opinion or research your rights. Do see the resources below.
Given women oftentimes find themselves in caregiving roles, ensure you make time to care for yourself. Burnout in any domain of life can increase the chance of developing mental or physical health conditions. Ask yourself: Who will look after me? How can I learn to fill up my cup?
Speak to someone
Reach out and speak to someone if you notice yourself struggling. Every woman and gender diverse person deserves the right care and support. Speak to your GP about gaining access to a mental health professional who you can go to for help.
Mental Health Comission
Accumulate Australia Women in the Workplace
Australians Women Health Network
Status of Women Report Card 2023
The Womens – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resources for women