Women’s physical and mental health on the decline


14 September 2022

More than 40 per cent of Australian women say their physical and mental health has deteriorated since the pandemic began, regardless of whether they have had COVID-19 or not, the 2022 Jean Hailes National Women’s Health Survey has found.

Alarmingly, almost 60 per cent of young women aged 18 to 25 reported a decline in mental health since the start of the pandemic.

The survey was conducted in March-May and attracted over 14,000 respondents. 

It revealed a dramatic drop in the number of women rating their health as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ compared to five years ago, and a trend towards more women experiencing health problems, particularly younger women. 

Nearly half of all women said their mental and physical health had deteriorated during the past two years. 

The survey also revealed that many women had missed health appointments due to the pandemic. One third said they had missed a dental visit, and one in five said they had missed a GP health check. 

Eight per cent said they had missed either a mammogram to check for breast cancer or a cervical cancer screening.

ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM said the results were “very disturbing’’.

“Previous surveys have shown that women have been hit hard by the pandemic, with many occupations such as nursing, midwifery and care work, comprised mostly of women,” Ms Dabars said.

“Women also remain the predominant providers of care in the home setting. This survey suggests we have to move fast to introduce measures to eliminate gender gaps in all facets of life including the workplace”. The ANMF has long campaigned against gender inequity, including issues relating to lower wages, childcare, wage inequality, poverty, discrimination, and gender-based violence.

Jean Hailes for Women’s Health said it hopes the survey will act as a catalyst for future research, and for all health services to review the way they provide information to diverse groups of people. 

The ANMF federally partnered with Jean Hailes for last week’s Women’s Health Week, the theme being ‘It’s All About You’. It encouraged female nurses, midwives and carers to spend some time focusing on their own health and wellbeing.