HER Centre Australia conference to inspire change in women’s mental health
The latest women’s mental health research, ground-breaking treatments and industry thought leaders will feature at the first Asia-Pacific Conference on Women’s Mental Health, hosted by Monash University’s HER Centre Australia this week.
Metamorphosis will run from 11 – 13 October and encompass youth and adolescence, adult and reproductive health, and menopause and later life. It will outline the latest research, knowledge and tools to educate health care providers, philanthropists, consumers and the public across the Asia-Pacific region to inspire change.
HER Centre Australia Director and keynote speaker, Monash University Professor Jayashri Kulkarni AM, said the event aimed to inspire a new gender-focussed era to improve mental health outcomes.
She said this included new understanding of women with mental ill-health across their lifespan, new treatments and services, and greater community and health practitioner awareness about the role of trauma, hormones and pandemic lockdowns.
“Young women need better understanding of eating disorders, deliberate self-harm and trauma- related disorders,” Professor Kulkarni said.
“New mothers need effective new treatments for postnatal depression and psychosis, with better understanding of the specific role played by pregnancy hormone shifts and mental ill health.
“Middle-aged women have an urgent need for better recognition and treatment of menopause related depression and anxiety. Older women need a gender-focussed understanding of cognitive decline and dementia. This is far more common in women and thought to be related in part to hormone changes in mid-life.”
Among other things, conference topics will include:
- The impact of mental illness on women
- Psychedelics for mental illness
- Neuroscience to treat eating disorders
- ADHD in females
- Mental health issues for migrants, refugees and women who are neurodivergent
- Perceptions of women and men experiencing grief
- New approaches to eating disorders
- The mental impact of violence against women
- Menopause treatments and menopause in the workplace
- Positive ageing
Experts will outline their latest mental health research. The Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health’s Associate Professor Melinda Jackson and Dr Sumedha Verma, for example, will discuss their work on the impact of sleep on mental health across the female lifespan.
Associate Professor Jackson will present on a nine-year longitudinal study on the relationship between sleep disturbances and mental health in young women, and different treatment approaches.
Dr Verma will detail some of the sleep issues parents experience in the postpartum, and evidence-based treatments to reduce insomnia after childbirth.
HER Centre Australia’s Dr Eveline Mu will also discuss using Alzheimer’s disease drug memantine to treat Borderline Personality Disorder, a complex and often misunderstood psychiatric illness.
Professor Kulkarni said the event would showcase national and international expertise in women’s mental health to influence mental health service delivery in Australia and the Asia Pacific region.
“Women experience twice the rates of depression and four times the rate of anxiety disorders compared to men and we still do not have enough understanding of the causes of mental ill health in women or enough gender focussed treatments available for women,” she said.
“It is extremely important to advance our knowledge through research and clinically translate women’s mental health research into specific new treatments for women.”
The conference aims to nurture collaborations across medical disciplines and women with lived experience by empowering them and upskilling GPs with new tools and understanding for better diagnosis and treatment of female patients.
Inaugural event partners include Monash University, the International Association for Women’s Mental Health, Cabrini Health and Alfred Health. It is hoped the conference will become a biennial event as part of a wider global women’s mental health network.