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NWCI launch online campaign on women’s mental health

Published: Thursday, November 21, 2019

Women’s inequality should come with a mental health warning, say the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today as they launched a new online campaign on women’s mental health. Running over three days, the awareness campaign aims to highlight the impact gender inequalities have on women’s mental health. 

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said, 
“Our campaign focuses on how women’s experiences, including their caring roles, experiences of violence and abuse, and body image pressures, can impact their mental health. In recent years, there has been much-needed conversation around mental health which has helped to tackle shame and stigma for those who experience mental health difficulties. However, it is crucial that as part of our conversations about mental health, we acknowledge the different experiences women have throughout their lives which can impact their wellbeing. As a society we need to take women’s mental health seriously.”

“Many of the risk factors for experiencing mental health difficulties - poverty, violence, low social status, disproportionate responsibility for care of others – fall disproportionately on women. These realities shape women’s experience of mental health. For this reason, our campaign focuses mainly on violence against women, caring, pregnancy and body image. The World Health Organisation has called attention to the consequences gender stereotypes have for women’s health in terms of self-confidence and well-being.”

Dr Cliona Loughnane, Women’s Health Coordinator said,

“While this campaign primarily seeks to raise awareness of women’s mental health needs, we do have policy asks. There may be no single solution for improving the mental health of women and girls, but the first step is to take women’s mental health seriously and prioritise actions to improve supports for women. Women’s experiences must be at the centre of policy and decision-making. NWCI is calling for the new national Mental Health Policy currently under development to include specific actions for women’s mental health.  We need to ensure universal mental health services, as they develop out of Sláintecare, provide access to the services women are asking for, including community-based, talk-therapy.”

“Crucially, we want to see public awareness campaigns addressing the mental health difficulties particularly impacting on women and girls, including eating disorders, self-harm and anxiety. This is important because to improve outcomes for women, everybody with a responsibility for delivering and improving mental health services needs to be aware of women’s mental health needs. 

Orla O’Connor concluded,

“We need to complicate rather than simplify our discussions about mental health because people’s different identities and society’s responses to them can have a large impact on mental wellbeing. Understanding how women, men and trans people experience mental health differently is crucial in determining our policy responses. In particular, we need to understand the specific needs of groups of marginalized women, including Traveller and Roma women, migrant women, and LGBTQI+ women. Because of discrimination and disadvantage, marginalised women are at particular risk of experiencing mental ill-health and often face greater barriers to accessing supports.”

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues you can find information and guidance on HSE yourmentalhealth.ie and nwci.ie/womens_mental_health

NWCI’s health work is supported by programme funding from the Health Service Executive.

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For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications Officer, 0858619087