International Women’s Day is a global celebration of women’s achievements, championing positive change advancing women and gender equality. This year International Women’s Day is focused on embracing equity, drawing attention to bias and seeking out inclusion.
It is important to consider how experiences unique to women impact on mental health and treatment outcomes in order to achieve equity in treatment. By acknowledging and addressing factors that contribute to the mental health and wellbeing of women we can improve support for the whole community.
While strides have been made in recent years towards gender equality, there are still significant health disparities between men and women, particularly when it comes to chronic health conditions.
Chronic health conditions are long-term illnesses or conditions that require ongoing management and treatment. Some of the most common chronic health conditions that affect women include endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, endometriosis affects approximately 10% of Australian women 1, while PCOS affects up to 13% of women of reproductive age2. These conditions can cause a range of symptoms, from chronic pain to hormonal imbalances and infertility, significantly impacting women’s quality of life.
One of the most significant challenges in managing chronic health conditions is the impact they can have on mental wellbeing. Women with PCOS or endometriosis face higher rates of anxiety, depression, and stress 3, 4, 5. In endometriosis, higher rates of mental illness are believed to be a result of chronic pain associated with the condition 3. It is crucial to acknowledge the link between chronic health conditions and mental wellbeing and ensure that women have access to the resources and support they need to manage both their physical and mental health. Digital mental health resources can support the management of chronic pain and mental health issues associated with chronic health conditions.
Chronic pain courses and chronic health resources:
Endometriosis Pain Course, Chronic Conditions Course, Pain Course, Youth Pain Course
eCentre Clinic is an initiative of Macquarie University, Sydney, offering and range of self-management programs for a range of mental and physical health conditions, including chronic physical health conditions. These courses are delivered online and provide information and practical skills for managing the impact of these conditions on emotional wellbeing. Participants also have regular contact with a clinician via email and telephone while undertaking the course.
The MindSpot Clinic is a free national service providing mental health screening assessments and treatment courses for Australian adults. They offer online courses for a range of issues including chronic pain. These courses provide information about the condition and self-management techniques, guidance to start practicing some self-management skills, and access to additional resources such as personal stories of lived experience. Participants also have regular, optional contact with a therapist via email and telephone while undertaking and course.
Serious and Chronic illnesses
ReachOut is an online space designed specifically for Australian youth, providing information, peer-support, and referral tools to help young people stay well. The ReachOut website contains information on a range of topics including series and chronic illnesses. Young people can access advice on how to cope with a recent diagnosis of a chronic illness, and living with a chronic illness, as well as read personal stories from other young people living with chronic pain, or join an anonymous online forum to talk about their own experiences.
THIS WAY UP
THIS WAY UP is an Australian organisation providing online treatment, education and research in the world of mental health. Their website includes a range of online programs designed to help Australians tackle feelings of stress, anxiety, low mood and more. Their Chronic Pain program teaches participants practical strategies for managing chronic pain, and associated low mood and anxiety.