Sunday, November 15, 2015
Olivia Blog #2
I have been learning so much through my research with WomenNC! Once I decided to do my research on women's mental health, I began to research which groups of women were really in need of more mental healthcare services. I learned that, because of lack of availability, stigma and accessibility, many women in rural areas were increasingly unable to receive help when they need it. Through a lot of research and with the help of others in the program, I was able to concretely decide to focus my policy brief on women's mental health in rural areas.
However, shortly after making this decision, I realized that this topic was still incredibly broad. What type of mental health problems would I focus on? Would I focus on stigma, accessibility or access in rural areas? What actual policy would I recommend? All of these questions have been of great importance in my research as of late.
According to the World Health Organization, gender is a critical determinant of mental health and mental illness. Women tend to experience common mental health problems, specifically anxiety and depression, at higher rates than men. Women experience generalized anxiety at much higher rates and much research shows that women experience depression at almost double the rate of men. A lot of data and research I have read suggests that not only are anxiety and depression significantly higher in women, but they are also more disabling in women. Because anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health disorders among women and tend to affect women at significantly more than men, I have decided to focus my policy brief on anxiety and depression.
I had a really hard time choosing between focusing on stigma and accessibility as a theme for my policy brief. I have personally experienced a lot of stigma associated with mental illness in rural areas, so it is where a lot of my passions are in this subject. However, stigma is so engrained in much of society, not just rural areas, that addressing this issue would be extremely hard. Before working on the stigma associated with mental heath, I think it is important to offer everyone access to mental healthcare. Through this, I think we can then begin to talk about mental heath and make it less taboo of a subject.
With my topic narrowed down to accessibility of mental health care services for women with anxiety and depression, I now have decide what my best practice model will be! I have looked at many models including a bus that drives out to rural areas providing services, the training of locals to address mental healthcare, among other models...however I have found one model that really sticks out to me; telepsychiatry/epsychiatry. Much of the research I have done if this suggests that it is just as effective as in person therapy. Some research even suggests that it is more effective!
I have reached out to Dr. Saeed from ECU's telepsychiatry department in order to potentially establish a connection with his program. Dr. Saeed seems to be a leading researcher in telepsychiatry and I am excited to talk to him more about his work! He said he would love to meet this coming week, so I am hopeful that this will work out.
After I talk to him, my next step is research more about telepsychiatry, specifically related to women. I have yet to find studies completely focused on women, but I have found a lot focused on anxiety and depression. I am a little bit worried about making my policy brief completely focused on women without a bunch of data to back it up. I am hoping Dr. Saeed can help me with this!