Women’s Mental Health

Why is Women’s Mental Health so important? 

Most of us -Women- have a tendency to put the ‘others’ in our lives first. We tend to rank ourselves wayyy down the list of priorities when it comes to dealing with our own mental wellbeing. But when it comes to women’s mental health, we really need to alter this mindset. We NEED to be responsible, take charge and start putting ourselves first.  It’s crucial for our own wellbeing, as well as those of our family unit and friends, to speak up, ask for help or seek advice; the earlier the better if you think you are experiencing any mental challenges. Once you fall in a heap, it’s a hard climb to get back out of it! 

It is a fact that we women, experience higher rates of mental illness than men. Approximately 1 in 6 women in Australia will suffer from depression and 1 in 3 women will endure anxiety during their lifetime. Women also experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and eating disorders at higher rates than men. 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 as well as in menopause transition.

There are a number of ways in which you can improve the state of your personal mental health. This will obviously benefit not only your quality of life, but the lives of the people you love and nurture around you.

The important thing to remember is to seek help, for your mental health condition. There are effective treatments available and, with the right care, most people recover, and learn a great deal about themselves and others in the process

Mental Health Issues or Mental Illness can affect anybody. PLEASE don’t be afraid to seek help if it affects you! 

We women have a fantastic capacity to love, to nurture, to empathise and to be compassionate. We understand each other simply because ‘we are women’ and similarly go through the ups and downs of hormones throughout our lives. We should be supporting eachother. We need to help other  get through tough times. Knowing when a friend or relative is a bit “down” or not quite as “perky” as they usually are, can often be the first sign something is amiss and they need some help. The easiest, and often the most helpful step, is to simply ask, “Are you OK, you don’t seem your normal self?”  Being there for each other, showing you care, can help prevent the onset of serious mental health conditions. 😊  

Factors affecting women 

Major life transitions such as pregnancy, motherhood and menopause can create physical and emotional stresses for women. Negative life experiences –infertility and peri and postnatal loss, poverty, discrimination, violence, unemployment and isolation – also impact on women’s mental health and wellbeing. Unequal economic and social conditions also contribute to a higher risk of depression.  

These are common examples of situations that can contribute to a decline in women’s mental health: 

Caring for or supporting others: Over two thirds of primary carers are women, caring for partners, parents and children. While this brings joy to many, it can be a major stressor. Also, managing competing paid and unpaid work/time demands can have a major impact on physical and mental health, financial security and independence.  

Relationship breakdowns: When a relationship ends, it can bring with it losses in every area of life; financial security, social connections, housing and relationships with children can all be affected. As a result, women who are separated, divorced or widowed are more likely to experience mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. It is normal to feel upset or sad following a relationship breakdown – or to lose pleasure in your usual activities. When these feelings persist and start to impact your daily life, it is time to talk to someone about how you are feeling and reach out for support.  

Violence or abuse: To maintain good mental health and wellbeing, women need to feel safe and respected in their relationships. One in four Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner  and one in four has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner.  Of those women who experience violence, more than half have children in their care.  
Experiences of violence and assault as well as emotional, physical and sexual abuse have devastating effects on women’s health and wellbeing. This can include depression and anxiety, drug and alcohol misuse, suicidal thoughts or attempts and post-traumatic stress. Often, due to fear and a belief there are no other options, women stay in relationships that cause them significant pain and distress. It is important for people to remember that they are not responsible for the abusive behavior of others, and that help is available. 

Infertility and perinatal loss: Infertility and miscarriage is an experience that affects many people. For some, the desire to be a parent is not fulfilled. Around one in six couples face infertility, as many as one in four identified pregnancies end in miscarriage, and one in 100 births result in stillbirth or newborn death. These losses can have a devastating impact on the emotional and mental wellbeing of women who have a strong desire to be a mum. Grief associated with these losses is mostly private and not often acknowledged. Without acknowledgement or support, a woman can be left feeling lost and alone which can further impact their mental health. 

Menopause: Menopause can increase the risk of developing mental health issues. Hormonal changes in the years leading up to menopause  and perimenopause, can cause mood swings and irritability and can contribute to depression and anxiety. Changes in hormonal levels can also result in a range of physical challenges such as hot flushes, night sweats, interrupted sleep patterns and weight gain – all of which can affect mental health.   

Women who experience surgical or early menopause can be at even greater risk of depression. It is important to speak to your doctor about your wellbeing as well as your physical health. Treatment and support are available. 

Activities such as eating well and keeping active – and doing the things you enjoy – are key to improving your wellbeing during menopause. 

Six little things you can do for your wellbeingevery day 

Finding time each day to focus on you and your wellbeing can have an enormous positive impact on your mental health.  Here are six little things to do which add up to help create a better head space and a positive mindset.  Find the time to reset yourself.  

Go for a morning walk. If it means getting only up five minutes earlier and walking around the block, it’s still worth it. Starting your day with fresh air and movement not only has physical benefits, it also kick-starts a positive mindset. Try to incorporate a walk into your commute to work/university/school. 

Read because you want to, not because you must. It’s true what your primary school English teachers used to say – reading really is exercise for the mind. Few things are better than being engrossed in a good book and losing all track of time. So make time for reading. 

Get creative in the kitchen. For many of us, cooking is somewhat of a chore. The easiest way to flip the script on this is to challenge yourself in the kitchen. We all have nights where we’re tired and dinner is either a takeaway or a mixture of leftovers from the fridge. But try and make the effort one night a week to create something new. Put some music on to get you inspired while you do it.  Ground breaking science, suggests a well balanced, nutritious diet plays a far more important role than previously thought.

Address your posture. Even though we know excessive sitting has detrimental effects on our health, so many of us still do it. At home. At work. On the commute in between. Your lower back is crying out for a change. If you have a desk job, try and get up for a walk every 30 minutes. If it means investing in a back-support cushion or a stand-up desk, it’s worth it. Talk to your employer. Substituting sitting time for standing or walking time might seem annoying – but your body will thank you for it.  

Listen to podcasts. Podcasts, for those who are new to them, they are basically audio programs on demand. That is, you can choose what you listen to and when you listen to it. And they are taking the world by storm. Listen to podcasts on subjects you are passionate about, or want to know more about, or simply ones that make you laugh. You’ll soon see what all the fuss is about. 

Box breathing and Mindfulness. There are no shortage of great breathing exercises and guided meditation apps out there. One simple exercise that you can do anytime, anywhere is a technique known as box breathing. It’s called ‘box breathing’ because it consists of four counts of four. Picture a square with each side representing a different count to four. Start with a slow inhale to the count of four, hold for the count of four, exhale for four, hold for four…and repeat.

Podcasts: 
An Aussie girl giving an insight into all things
WOMEN  that we sometimes, are a bit dubious to bring up at coffee…  

Ladies, We Need To Talk is a podcast for women, by women, that isn’t afraid to dive head first into the tricky topics we often avoid talking about. Join host Yumi Stynes as she tears open the sealed section on life. With sensitivity, personal stories, and serious smarts, this is for women who feel the squeeze between work, their private life, and their pelvic floor. 

PRESENTS — Mindfully 

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/ladies-we-need-to-talk/ 

Do you have too many brain tabs open, keeping you up at night? Probably. Is your head exploding with the mental load of all the stuff you’ve got to do? Definitely. 
Have you ever wished your life was simpler, but haven’t known where to start? 
Ladies, we need to talk about mindfulness … because it could change your bloody life. 

People who you can call for help: 

If you are in an emergency, or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000. 

To talk to someone now call:  

Lifeline: 13 11 14 

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 

Open Minds: 1300 673 664 

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467 

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