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Women urged to look after mental health


Matt Woodley


7/09/2021 3:10:50 PM

Mental health is currently the most common reason women see their GP, a newsGP poll suggests.

Female patient talking to a GP.
Research indicates women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Nearly two thirds of respondents to a newsGP weekly poll have stated mental health is the number one reason female patients are presenting to their GPs.
 
The poll, which had nearly 1400 responses, was held ahead of Women’s Health Week, which is running from 6–10 September. Mental health was identified as the most common reason for women presenting (65%), followed by questions about COVID-19 vaccination (21%), screenings and preventive care (8%), and alcohol and other drugs (4%).
 
In response to the survey, the RACGP and Jean Hailes for Women’s Health are asking women and their GPs to use the week to consider their mental health, with college President Dr Karen Price describing the results as ‘very concerning, but not surprising’.
 
‘We know women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,’ she said.
 
Research has shown women have lost more jobs than men, they’re shouldering more of the increase in unpaid work, including caring for kids and vulnerable relatives, supporting home-schooling, and they’re less likely to receive government support.
 
‘The pandemic and restrictions have also impacted screening and early diagnosis for many health conditions. Preventive healthcare and early diagnosis can be life-saving so don’t neglect or delay your own health needs at this time.’
 
Dr Price said she has seen many stressed and anxious women recently, including patients who present for other reasons but then end up discussing their mental health as well.
 
‘A good GP can spot the signs and start a discussion with their patient if they have concerns,’ she said.
 
‘Unfortunately, we know women tend to put their loved ones’ health and wellbeing before their own. Women’s Health Week is a timely reminder for women to think of their own health, particularly mental health, during this challenging time.
 
‘My message to women is simple: if you’ve been putting your health last, now’s the time to get back on track.’
 
Women’s Health Week is held annually in September to promote good health for all women and girls in Australia. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health Acting CEO Janet Michelmore said the week is a ‘timely reminder’ to women to look after themselves.
 
‘For the second year we are seeing COVID-19 have a significant impact on health and wellbeing,’ she said.
 
‘We want to urge women not to forget their own health while busy caring for others … there is help and support out there, so please use it.’
 
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