Ireland has the highest suicide rate for female children in the EU, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) has warned, ahead of the launch of its report on women’s mental health.
The “Out of Silence” report, which will be published today, documents the specific mental health needs of women and girls in Ireland. It is based on interviews with 100 female patients at St Patrick’s University Hospital in Dublin.
The NWCI said men and women both suffer from mental illness equally but that women have specific needs, experiences and contributory factors.
“Menopause has a very big impact on mental health. Oh my God, the shock of it. You’re told about the sweats but not told about the anxiety,” one woman told the study.
Women are twice as likely to experience depression and anxiety as men and in some of the poorest areas of Dublin females are taking their life in the same numbers as men for the first time, the NWCI said.
“Recent women’s healthcare scandals have shown the need to listen to women and use their experiences to inform health policies and the provision of services for women and girls in all our diversity,” NWCI’s health co-ordinator and co-author of the report, Clíona Loughnane said.
“Unfortunately, the findings of this project show that there are deficits in mental health provision for women. If we want to improve mental health outcomes for women, we must address issues such as women’s shame and guilt when speaking out, the fear of their children being removed when seeking support, depression, low self-esteem and long waiting lists for care.”
Women account for the majority of admissions to St Patrick’s Mental Health Services according to its advocacy manager, Louise O’Leary. She said there is a need to become more aware of the differences in male and female mental illness “so that mental health services, and mental health promotion and prevention efforts can be more effective.”