Australia is facing a backlog of untreated mental health problems due to the under-resourced and overlooked mental illness of women, according to Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, a psychiatry professor and director of the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre. Women experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and more targeted research and gender-specific treatments are needed to address the biological, psychological, and social factors of mental illness.
There is a call for specialist women’s mental health clinics and clinical trials to investigate hormone treatments. Despite the unique mental health challenges that men and women face, Australia’s mental health services and treatments are largely “gender blind,” according to Professor Kulkarni. She also highlighted the lack of services dedicated to treating mental health disorders in women, with the exception of perinatal mental health programs.
Professor Kulkarni said that mental health treatments in Australia need to change and that the “same old same old” approach is not effective in addressing the problem. “Doing the ‘same old same old’ in mental health…is just not hitting the target,” she said.
Urgent Need for Specialist Women’s Mental Health Clinics
Professor Kulkarni emphasizes that one of the most pressing changes required in the field of mental health services is the creation of specialized clinics for women’s mental health. To address this need, she and her colleagues at HER Centre Australia have established a comprehensive, interdisciplinary clinic that provides second opinions to women with various mental health issues. The clinic is equipped to assist women dealing with conditions such as schizophrenia, psychosis, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, as well as menopause and menstrual-related mood disorders.