Women’s mental health

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Mental ill health has become more common in recent years, particularly among women, above all young women. Researchers at Uppsala University have now launched a multidisciplinary research initiative aimed at preventing, detecting and treating mental ill health among women of childbearing age.

The increase in mental ill health among women has been linked to changing conditions in society, but no causes have yet been established. Mental ill health is especially common among women of childbearing age, a fact that has repercussions for women’s reproductive health. A depression in conjunction with childbirth can affect a woman’s attachment to her newborn child, which ultimately can influence the child’s emotional development. The problem is complex and needs to be analysed from a variety of perspectives, not just the medical point of view. Yet despite great public interest in these issues, women’s mental health remains a neglected field of research.

For this reason, in 2020 researchers at Uppsala University established a multidisciplinary centre for women’s mental health – WoMHeR – to address the severe knowledge shortfalls in this area. Experts from a range of fields at the University come together here to engage in joint research and education. In addition to researchers from the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health and the Department of Neuroscience, the centre draws on staff from gender studies, psychiatry, psychology, occupational and environmental medicine, law, theology, economics, chemistry, information technology and SciLifeLab.

In its work, the centre seeks to promote diagnostics and treatment using new technologies, while also evaluating new, individualised preventive measures and treatments. The more specific ambition is to build up a research infrastructure including an MRI scanner for research purposes, as well as biological analysis, research nurses and PhD education. The goal is to become better at preventing, detecting and treating mental ill health among women of childbearing age.

“We need to know more about women’s mental health. Our ambition is to build up a broad research infrastructure that will help us to better understand the growing problem of mental ill health, particularly among young women.”
Agneta Skoog Svanberg, Professor of Reproductive Health