Leading cause of disability for women is mental health

Mental illness is the leading cause of disability among women living in Australia with social factors contributing to the problem, a national women’s health group has warned.

Yet while women are more likely to experience anxiety, eating disorders and depression, men are three times as likely to take their own lives.

There is also evidence that mental health issues are underdiagnosed in younger women due to the stigma attached to mental health problems, The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) National Women’s Health Summit was told.

While there have been advancements, including a mental health suicide prevention plan and Medicare-funded domestic violence screening for pregnant women, not enough has changed RANZCOG vice president Dr Vijay Roach said

“And so the responsibility of our community is to try to lift the stigma. The responsibility of health professionals is to screen for mental health disorders across all demographics and then to develop pathways to care, having identified a person who is at higher risk for mental illness,” Dr Roach said.

He said that the way females have been conditioned in society is a key reason they experience higher rates of depression and anxiety than men.

“As a result of the way women are socialised, they’re at higher risk of experiencing anxiety and depression. For example with eating disorders, young women are very targeted in terms of their body shape, in terms of their weight, in terms of their appearance, in terms of their sexuality.”

Suicide - and thinking about suicide - rates were also high among both younger and middle-aged women.

>> Read more here


New national approach to carer support services

A new national approach to carer support services has been approved by the Federal Government.

Chief executive of Carers Australia, Ara Cresswell, last week welcomed the long-awaited announcement.  “For some years now Carers Australia and other carer service providers have been working with the Department of Social Services to design a more integrated and nationally consistent model of delivering services to Australia’s 2.8 million family and friend carers,” Ms Cresswell said.

“While not all carers need special support services in their own right to meet the challenges they face in their caring role, a great many do.

“Over one third of carers who are the main source of support to one or more people with disability, chronic or terminal illness, mental health challenges or who are frail aged, provide 40 hours or more of care a week and a third of such carers also have a disability of some kind themselves.

“The new integrated carer support services model will extend the range and accessibility of carer supports and address some of the fragmentation of existing services,” she said.

“While some elements of the model still need to be fully developed and articulated, we support the overall design,” said Ms Cresswell.

“The Government has calculated that the change will affect about 1 per cent of Carer Allowance recipients, with all the savings from this measure invested into carer services.


Research fund for mental health

The Federal Government will establish a special research fund to find better ways of treating and preventing mental illness. However, there's no money in the mental health account yet.

Health Minister Greg Hunt discussed the fund, which will aim to transform the lives and treatment of a million people during the next decade, on ABC radio last week.

>> You can listen to it here 


Put your art in it

Everyone is encouraged to enter the Mental Health Foundation’s art competition with up to $1000 in prize money and your chance to feature on this year’s Mental Health Month poster. Your work must be original and entries close 18 May.

>> Click here for details  


Aged care call

Carers Australia has joined with Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), Baptist Care Australia and Uniting Care Australia in urging the government to release more Home Care Packages for the aged.

>> Read more here 


Agency adopts new pricing

The National Disability Insurance Agency will implement all 25 recommendations made in an independent review of NDIS pricing, despite an associated cost of up to $420 million.

>> Read more here 


First days a foundation for mental health

With more than half of all lifelong mental health problems beginning before 14 years of age and the risks manifesting younger still, investing in the first 1000 days of a child’s life is an imperative for health and the economy.

>> Read the article here 


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