One in two Australian women are suffering from a mental illness – and that’s just one of the alarming finds to come out of a new report.
Alarmingly, one in three aren’t seeking the help they need to cope with their mental health issues because they simply can’t afford it.
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Our young and middle-aged women in regional areas are the most affected – and Queenslanders and Tasmanians present the worst numbers of all.
The report identified 49 per cent of women in Queensland are experiencing anxiety and generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), the highest rate of any state, while women in Tassie had the highest rates of depression at 51 per cent, body image issues at 46 per cent, and 20 per cent suffered from psychological distress in comparison to other states.
“A range of factors can lead to a woman experiencing poor mental health – psychological, biological and social – all of which can change over a woman’s life,” the Liptember Foundation explained.
“Biological factors like menstruation, menopause, pregnancy and birth; as well as certain experiences such as miscarriage, ovarian or cervical cancer, can each present unique and diverse mental health conditions specifically for women.”
Madhavi Nawana-Parker, a psychologist, agreed. She’s seen first-hand how a woman’s hormonal functions can wreak havoc on mental health.
“In my clinic I often observe that the unique biological challenges and experiences women face in their lifetime can be a trigger for mental ill-health,” she told Women’s Agenda.
The stats don’t lie. The report stated that one in two women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are living with severe mental disorders, and more than half who suffer from endometriosis are experiencing anxiety and GAD.
Another one in two overcoming physical birth trauma are living with severe mental health disorders, while 53 per cent of women going through menopause have depression.
Women with premenstrual dysmorphic disorder who experience suicidal ideation and self-harm made up one out of every five. The list goes on.
“But it is not only biological factors that impact a woman’s mental health; there are different life stages, socioeconomic, political and cultural factors associated with being female that have a significant impact on the prevalence of mental illness among those who identify as women,” the foundation added.
As mentioned, the cost of living is only making things worse. Luke Morris, Liptember Foundation CEO said, “Financial pressures are worsening women’s mental health yet at the same time, a growing number of those who suffer from mental health issues say they can’t afford to seek the help they so desperately need.”
“With no ease to the cost of living pressures in sight, sadly, we are likely to see women’s mental health suffering as a result in the coming years.”
The 5 most prevalent mental health issues among Australian women in 2023
Depression: 45 per cent
Anxiety and generalised anxiety disorders: 44 per cent
Body image issues: 34 per cent
Psychological distress: 16 per cent
Post-traumatic stress disorder: 14 per cent