Women are struggling. Let’s admit it. We are struggling.
On top of that, 67 per cent of women say they’re regularly feeling nervous, anxious or on edge.
This means that having mental health issues is starting to become the norm for women.
Women are being told they need to take better care of themselves, mentally and physically. But is this really the message we should be taking home from these statistics? Surely the bigger question is: Why are so many women feeling anxious and depressed and what can be done about it?
Janet Michelmore, the director of Jean Hailes For Women’s Health, says women are juggling so much right now.
“Many of them are in full-time work, often there are children to look after, ageing parents, as well as relationship demands,” she tells Mamamia.
“We read quite often that if both parents are working full time, the domestic load is more taken up by the women.”
She says triggers for anxiety and depression include work stress, pregnancy and birth, death of someone close, and family and relationship problems. There’s also the “very concerning statistic” of emotional and physical abuse.
Michelmore believes that the issues of unequal domestic load and emotional and physical abuse are both being talked about more than they used to be.
“This won’t change overnight,” she adds. “Change is a long-term proposition.”
She believes women need to focus on their mental fitness, so that they’re better able to cope with things that life throws at them.
“Self care is not selfishness,” she says.
But still, that’s throwing it back to women. We’re supposed to prepare more healthy food and do more exercise and relax more and go to the doctor more often. How do we find the time, if nothing around us is changing, or only changing very slowly?
Mamamia Helps: How to talk to people with anxiety, we made a handy guide.
There’s another very sad and telling statistic that pops up further into the women’s health survey. The 15,000 Australian women who took part were asked how often they set aside time just for themselves – for example, a bath, a night out with friends or watching a movie.
Shockingly, 34 per cent of women said they didn’t even do this once a week. That’s right. More than a third of Australian women are under so much pressure that they’re not even able to lie back in a bath or flop down in front of a movie once a week.
And I understand that, because I’m one of those women. Something else always takes priority: work, kids, cleaning the bathroom, sorting out the car rego, picking up the dog poo in the backyard, etc, etc.
How do we find time for self care? And is it even going to be enough, with all the things that life throws at us?
Statistics like this need to be a wake-up call to everyone, not just women.
Men in relationships need to take a good hard look at the hours they spend doing housework and looking after kids, and start trying to even things up.
Governments need to put more funding into domestic violence services so more women can be helped.
Workplaces need to look at how they can be more supportive of employees who have parental responsibilities, instead of waiting until they’re pushed into doing it.
The discussion around gender inequality needs to continue, no matter how much men’s rights activists try to shut it down.
Anxious shouldn’t be our new normal. We deserve better.
For more info on women’s health, please go to Women’s Health Week.