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Women's mental health in the spotlight at Melbourne conference

Today is World Mental Health Day and women’s mental health will be the focus of discussion at a two-day conference that begins in Melbourne this morning.

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Metamorphosis, which runs until 13th October, is the first Asia-Pacific Conference on Women’s Mental Health and it is hosted by Monash University’s HER Centre Australia.

The discussions will encompass youth and adolescence, adult and reproductive health, and menopause and later life. It will outline the latest research, knowledge and tools to educate health care providers, philanthropists, consumers and the public across the Asia-Pacific region to inspire change.

HER Centre Australia Director and keynote speaker, Monash University Professor Jayashri Kulkarni AM, said the event aimed to inspire a new gender-focussed era to improve mental health outcomes.

She said this included new understanding of women with mental ill-health across their lifespan, new treatments and services, and greater community and health practitioner awareness about the role of trauma, hormones and pandemic lockdowns.

“Young women need better understanding of eating disorders, deliberate self-harm and trauma- related disorders,” Professor Kulkarni said.

“New mothers need effective new treatments for postnatal depression and psychosis, with better understanding of the specific role played by pregnancy hormone shifts and mental ill health.“Middle-aged women have an urgent need for better recognition and treatment of menopause related depression and anxiety. Older women need a gender-focussed understanding of cognitive decline and dementia. This is far more common in women and thought to be related in part to hormone changes in mid-life.”

A wide range of groundbreaking research is expecte4d to be presented over the next few days.

Professor Kulkarni said the event would showcase national and international expertise in women’s mental health to influence mental health service delivery in Australia and the Asia Pacific region.

“Women experience twice the rates of depression and four times the rate of anxiety disorders compared to men and we still do not have enough understanding of the causes of mental ill health in women or enough gender focussed treatments available for women,” she said.

“It is extremely important to advance our knowledge through research and clinically translate women’s mental health research into specific new treatments for women.”

World Mental Health Day was first marked in 1992. On 10th October each year it’s a moment to celebrate awareness of mental illness and its effects on people worldwide. It’s also an opportunity for mental health professionals to highlight their work and new discoveries.

It aligns with WA Mental Health Week that is celebrated from 7th to 14th of October. The theme for this year is ‘Mind. Body. Environment.’ encouraging us all to think about how we look after our mental health and wellbeing.

OIP Staff


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