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STRONGER TOGETHER: Women's mental health and the lipstick effect

Last updated: 18/09/2023

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses Liptember and how 'the lipstick effect' drives the agenda on women's mental health.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

It’s amazing the power that something as simple as a bright shade of lipstick can hold. I recently read an article sharing the story behind Liptember, and the campaign to drive the agenda on women’s mental health.

The statistics speak for themselves. In 2022, the Liptember Foundation's research revealed that one in two Australian women struggled with mental illness last year, with one in four of those facing a severe form of mental illness. What’s more, only 49% of women will seek help because they don’t have the time or money to get help, or are too ashamed to admit they’re struggling.

These numbers are not just figures; they represent the lives and well-being of our mothers, sisters, friends, and colleagues.

Despite these staggering statistics, there's a silver lining. The power of a simple lipstick, or as economists put it, "The Lipstick Effect," can be harnessed for good. The Liptember Foundation has turned this concept into a ray of hope. By encouraging women to add a pop of colour to their lips during September, we're not only boosting our own spirits but also starting a conversation about mental health that needs to be had.

Until recently, mental health research and support services often lacked a gender-specific lens, even though women are 58% more likely than men to experience mental illness. We know women's mental health can be influenced by a multitude of factors – biological, psychological, social, and cultural. From menstruation to menopause, pregnancy to cancer, each life stage presents unique challenges. But it's not just biology; it's also societal and cultural pressures that affect women's mental well-being.

The Liptember Foundation, founded in 2010, has stepped in to fill this crucial gap. To date, they've raised over $14 million that has helped to deliver research, programs, and services tailored to the unique needs of women across Australia.

You can read more about Liptember at liptember.com.au.

Good mental health isn't merely the absence of illness; it's the ability to engage fully and effectively in society. By supporting Liptember, we're not just raising awareness; we're contributing to a brighter, more mentally healthy future for all women.

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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