Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Women and mental health

Information from this article in the Independent

According to a report from the NHS Information Centre, 56% of the 1.2 million referrals for treatment (inpatient and outpatient) last year were women. The total was up 3.4% from the previous year, and women accounted for 70% of the increase.

There has also been a rise of more than 12% in proportion of women suffereing depression and anxiety since the mid-1990s. Men have shown no increase in mental health problems.

The increase has been blamed on the increasing need to care for elderly parents in their 80s and 90s, and the fact that women still bear the major responsibility for caring. This has to be seen in the context of a policy to keep elderly people at home as much as possible, with the financial pressures of paying for domestic care.

A 2003 report by the charity Women at the Crossroads pointed out that women in mid-life are likely to find themselves in financial difficulties as a result of lower pay, part-time working, and divorce. They were less likely than men to own their own home, and carried a greater share of household duties.

My solution would be to encourage a more equal distribution of tasks between men and women, along with equal pay (of course). And our priorities should be towards money for public services at basic levels, such as home care, and other social services, rather than high salaries for top civil servants. Or of course bankers.

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