1 in 5 Aussie women in distress over finances

One in five Australian women aged 55 to 64 have high levels of mental distress associated with financial insecurity, an increase of 40% in the last 20 years, according to an analysis led by Monash University.

Researchers examined Australian psychological distress trends from 2001 to 2018, from six national health surveys that showed a 40% increase in mental distress disproportionally affecting women aged 55 to 64, young women and those from low-income backgrounds.

More recent data highlights that post-Covid-19,  1 in 5 women have high to very high distress.

“Financial economic security for Australian women is at an all-time low, and women and their families continue to be relatively disadvantaged,” says first author Dr Joanne Enticott, Head of Mental Health Epidemiology Research at the Monash School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

“There is an urgent need for a bold new agenda that delivers broader cooperation to improve financial insecurity and optimise mental and physical health.”

Australia’s gender inequity gap is widening with the World Economic Forum showing Australia has dropped to 50th on the global gender gap index.

This is due to increasing gender disparity around economic opportunities for women, which causes financial insecurity, linked to elevated mental distress in Australian women.

“There have been attempted strategies to improve women’s economic security that has not yet been delivered for women. With financial insecurity the primary determinant of health, if society does not fix this problem, many Australian women face unprecedented physical and mental health challenges,” says Professor Helena Teede, Director of the Monash Centre for Research Health and Implementation (MCHRI).

Monash University is working with the Federal Government to establish a national institute to support women of all ages.

It will work across the social determinants of health with a strong focus on financial insecurity and equity to optimise health and wellbeing.

“The institute will better serve women and their families through greater partnership, with women by women, for women. The national institute will be expanded to advance women’s careers to improve financial inequity and reduce mental distress,” says Professor Teede.

The results of the study were published in Frontiers in Psychiatry

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