“Stand together to support women’s health” – Courtney Jane Gowland

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By Courtney Jane Gowland

Do you agree that it is very rare to see newspapers or news presenters discussing women’s health? Are our ‘problems’ so small to others that they simply don’t matter?

I see young women all of the time dealing with problems, whether it be anxiety, stress or relationship troubles. As much as these things are terrible, the worst thing about them is that young women are dealing with problems on their own. Why? Because the world today is drowning in the glamorous Hollywood image; it’s all about how good your hair looks on the latest Instagram post, whether your lipstick matches your outfit or what brands you’re wearing. Does any of this really matter? We are too embarrassed to admit our problems or talk about them because we are scared of what people will think. But I think, what does that matter? We all have problems, some more than others. There is always going to be someone worse than you and someone better, no matter where you are on the ladder. We all just have to learn to accept one another and that everyone has problems.

I, too as a young woman find it hard to talk about my issues. Of course, it’s scary. We are all human. But what really gets to me is that some people show a level of disrespect towards women’s health; some just disregard it like it doesn’t matter, sweep it under the rug thinking it will just pass. There are simply not enough people available to talk to about our health and wellbeing. If there is lots of help available then we must ask some simple questions:

Why are women twice as likely to experience a type of anxiety disorder compared to men? (60% of those with OCD or a phobia are women)

Why do 1.9% of women develop anorexia due to an eating disorder, compared to the 0.2% of men?

Why do 1 in 4 women have depression?

Why do 8-15% of women experience postnatal depression after giving birth?

Why are women, according to research, more likely to self-harm than boys?

Why are two-thirds of those with dementia women?

Why are more women affected by PTSD due to the sexual violence? The risk for developing a PTSD order after a traumatic event stands at 20.4% for women, compared with 8.1% for men.

There is clearly not enough help around for women’s health. How many times do GPs disregard our symptoms and put them down menstrual cramps or hormones? Why do we have articles titled ‘How to deal with your woman when she is on her period?’ How about get up, stop reading the article and go and help her feel better instead of avoiding her mood-swings? Whether they are out there or not, it is very rare that we see articles on how to deal with men when they are sick or run-down. It is very rare that women make jokes about avoiding a man when he is in a bad mood. However, I’m sure nearly all of us women hear this: ‘It’s clearly that time of month.’

It is very frustrating as a woman to be alienated because of something that we cannot help, because of something that is normal. How about we talk to her, ask her if she okay, ask if she needs any help, or just smile? She really isn’t going to bite your head off like you might think.

What about those teenagers who are going through puberty and might not have a mother or female figure to help them along the way? Maybe they are too embarrassed to talk to somebody else. Considering this, is there any help at schools? And if so, is there anyone telling these young women that it’s okay to feel anxious? Do they even know if the help is available? I know I never got offered any help at high school. It is ignored – why? Because it is disregarded as nothing and unimportant.

I was shocked to see an article in the Daily Mail recently stating that GPs dismiss womb illness as period pain, claiming that women simply imagine the symptoms. This is not supporting equality between men and women’s health. This is the reason why I believe that the NHS needs more trained staff to deal with women’s health, otherwise the example of some statistics shown above are only going to rise.

At Manchester Met, I know there is plenty of help available through the Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service, which is for every male and female student that needs some support. DO NOT feel afraid to ask for help. DO NOT let anyone dismiss your symptoms. DO NOT let anyone tell you that you are imagining your symptoms.

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