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The SANE Blog

International Women's Day: Addressing Mental Health Across the Lifespan

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International Women's Day is celebrated on 8 March, highlighting the achievements and hurdles faced by women across the globe. A critical aspect of any challenges is mental health, influenced by the distinct biological, social, and emotional shifts that women navigate through various stages of life. This post delves into these stages, the mental health issues they may entail, signs to watch for, and strategies and resources for support and management.


The path to understanding mental health challenges for women often starts in adolescence. During this period, young girls grapple with societal pressures, body image concerns, and the volatile dynamics of teenage relationships. The onset of hormonal, physical, and emotional transformations during these years can trigger anxiety and depression, further intensified by social media's portrayal of unattainable beauty and success standards.

Signs to Look Out For:

  • Sudden changes in behaviour or mood
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Excessive concern about weight and appearance

Support and Management:

  • Provide education about the changes that come with puberty and foster an environment where girls feel comfortable to discuss their feelings.
  • Schools and families can help through supporting open conversations and offering resources for professional help. Encourage young women to engage in activities that boost self-esteem, such as sports, arts, and volunteer work.
  • Introduce young women to positive role models and mentors to nurture a healthy self-perception and confidence.
  • Promote the use of counselling services and mental health resources.

Here are some links that may be helpful:


Postnatal depression (PND) is a significant mental health challenge that affects many women after childbirth. Symptoms can include persistent sadness, low energy, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, anxiety, and difficulty bonding with the baby. There are many causes of PND, including hormonal changes, the psychological adjustment to motherhood, and the physical and emotional stress of caring for a newborn. 

Signs to Look Out For:

  • Persistent sadness or low mood
  • Lack of interest in the baby or fear of harming the baby
  • Feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy

 Support and Management:

  • Become linked in with a local child and family health centre where a health professional can visit you or chat with you and screen for postnatal depression, and provide help.
  • Build a support network of family, friends, and groups which can provide emotional and practical assistance. Peer support groups in particular can also offer comfort and understanding from women going through similar experiences.
  • Encourage new mothers to seek professional help when needed. Talking therapies, such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), and medications, if necessary, have been effective treatments.

If you are a struggling mother and need help in accessing support, click on one of the links below for more information in your state:


As women transition into adulthood, they often juggle multiple roles - career, partner, mother, caregiver etc. The pressure to excel in each role can lead to stress, anxiety, and even burnout. Workplace challenges, including gender discrimination and pay disparity, further compound these issues, affecting women's mental health.

Signs to Look Out For

  • Constant fatigue and overwhelm
  • Irritability or sudden emotional outbursts 
  • Feelings of failure or inadequacy in balancing roles

Support and Management:

  • Employers can support women by offering flexible working hours, remote work options, and parental leave policies.
  • Create a support system with partners, family, and community resources to alleviate the burden of balancing multiple roles.
  • Prioritise self-care and set healthy boundaries to manage stress and prevent burnout.
  • Exercise time management and set realistic goals to alleviate stress.
  • Seek professional help when needed.

Here are some resources you may find helpful:


Menopause and the transitional phase known as perimenopause are significant stages in a woman's life that can profoundly affect her mental health. The fluctuating hormone levels during perimenopause can lead to sleep disturbances, mood swings, anxiety, depression, irritability, and problems with concentration and memory. Menopause marks the end of a woman's reproductive years and typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 60, although the exact timing can vary.

Signs to Look Out For:

  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Sleep disturbances and fatigue

Support and Management:

  • Promote education and awareness about menopause to help women understand the changes they're experiencing and reduce stigma.
  • Access to healthcare professionals who are knowledgeable about menopause and its impact on mental health is essential for managing symptoms effectively. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be an option for some women to manage severe symptoms, but it's essential to discuss the risks and benefits with a healthcare provider.
  • Support groups offer shared experiences and coping strategies, providing a sense of belonging and understanding.
  • Lifestyle adjustments including regular exercise, a healthy diet, and sufficient sleep, can mitigate some of the physical and emotional symptoms of menopause.
  • Mindfulness, yoga, and meditation can also be beneficial in managing stress and improving mental well-being.

Here are some information links you may find useful:


As women transition into later life and ageing, they encounter unique mental health challenges. This period can be marked by significant life changes, including retirement, the loss of a partner and other loved ones, increasing physical health issues, and social isolation. These factors can have profound impacts on mental well-being, potentially leading to depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline. Understanding these challenges is vital for providing support and promoting mental health among ageing women.

Signs to Look Out For:

  • Withdrawal from social activities and hobbies
  • Persistent sadness, tearfulness, or decreased motivation
  • Changes in sleep patterns, appetite, or energy levels
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
Support and Management:
  • Encourage participation in community activities, clubs, or groups to combat isolation. Virtual platforms can also offer a way to stay connected with family and friends.
  • Regular physical activity, a balanced diet, and medical check-ups can improve both physical and mental health. Activities like walking, yoga, and swimming can be particularly beneficial.
  • Engage in mentally stimulating activities such as reading, puzzles, or learning new skills to help maintain cognitive function and provide a sense of achievement and purpose.
  • Access to mental health professionals who specialise in aged care can offer tailored strategies for managing mental health issues. Counselling and support groups for bereavement can also provide solace and understanding.
  • Encourage volunteer work or the pursuit of hobbies and interests to provide meaningful engagement and a sense of contribution to the community.

Here are some links that may be helpful:

In conclusion, as we celebrate International Women's Day, it's important to highlight the importance of mental health awareness and support for women at all stages of life. Recognising the signs of mental health issues and providing a supportive network can empower women to seek help and manage their challenges effectively. Education, communication, and community support are key to fostering resilience and wellbeing. Let's commit to supporting women's mental health today and every day.

Dr. Carissa Coulston-Parkinson is a Clinical Psychologist with specialist knowledge in the areas of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, intellectual disability, personality disorders, traumatic brain injury and neurological conditions.

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