In response to the government’s announcement of the inaugural Women’s Mental Health Service (1/12/2023), the Victorian Women’s Health Services expresses enthusiasm for this pivotal step in prioritising gender-responsive healthcare. The sector also advocated to the Victorian Government to not forget the value of primary prevention to promote mental health.
Tricia Currie, Chair of the Victorian Women’s Health Services Network and CEO of Women’s Health Loddon Mallee, commends Victoria's leadership in recognising the significance of tailored healthcare. Currie notes, "This initiative is especially crucial for rural and regional communities, with the establishment of a service site in Shepparton addressing the disproportionate lack of access to essential health services for women in these areas."
While welcoming the government's commitment, Currie emphasised the importance of investing in primary prevention and health promotion. "We urge the Victorian Government to recognise the value of preventing mental health issues in women. Including these services not only saves government funds but also focuses on enhancing the overall well-being of women promoting good mental health and addressing the social determinants of health.
In support of this advocacy, the Victorian Women’s Health Services has released an economic case titled Return on Equity: Health and Economic Dividends from Investing in Women's Health Services. This landmark report underscores the long-term economic benefits of investing in women's health, from reducing healthcare costs to improving workforce participation.
The report reveals that preventing long-term mental ill-health could yield annual benefits of approximately $100,000 per person. A modest 0.5% reduction in women suffering from long-term mental ill-health could result in economic benefits of $178 million.
Amanda Kelly, Co-Deputy Chair of the Victorian Women’s Health Services and CEO of Women’s Health Goulburn North East, emphasises the holistic approach needed. "To prevent mental illness, we must support initiatives that enhance women’s well-being, eliminate community barriers to seeking help, improve access to reproductive healthcare, promote financial independence, support sustainable social networks, address discrimination and oppression, and prevent violence against women."
The Victorian Women’s Health Services advocate for an intersectional gender lens across all health and social policies in Victoria. In the fiscal year 2022-2023, with $3.1 million from the Victorian Government, Victorian Women’s Health Services directly impacted 1,795 individuals across 104 projects and initiatives throughout Victoria, promoting mental well-being in the community. Health funding must prioritise primary prevention and health promotion to ensure that mental ill health is prevented and all Victorian women and gender diverse people have the support they need to stay well.
Available for interview upon request:
- Tricia Currie, Chair, Women's Health Services Network and CEO, Women's Health Loddon Mallee
- Amanda Kelly, Co-Deputy Chair of the Victorian Women’s Health Services and CEO of Women’s Health Goulburn North East
The full report Return on Equity: Health and economic dividends from investing in Women's Health Services can be found on the Women’s Health Services website along with a recording of the launch held on the 23rd of November 2023. https://www.whsn.org.au/an-economic-case
Victorian Agency for Health Information (2023) Victorian Population Health Survey 2019 tells us that in Victoria, for females:
· one in three (36%) had ever experienced anxiety or depression
· one in five (19%) said they were diagnosed with anxiety or depression in the last year
· one in four (24%) had sought help for a mental health related problem in the last year
· one in five (21%) had high or very high levels of psychological distress
· one in five (18%) said they had low or medium feelings of life being worthwhile
· one in eight (12%) said they never, or did not often, feel valued by society.
About Women's Health Services Network
The Women's Health Services Network has been a driving force progressing and shaping Victoria’s women’s health and equality space for four decades. While our services were established and funded independently of one another, collaboration has been a strong part of our history. Today, the 12 women’s health services funded through the state government’s Victorian Women’s Health Program collaborate under the title the ‘Victorian Women’s Health Services Network’. This enables us to work as a coordinated, mutually-reinforcing statewide network comprising both place-based and specialist services.
Tricia Currie Chair, Women’s Health Services Network
Phone: 0428365929 Email: email@example.com