Investigating the ‘women’s health approach’ to depression

This research project was undertaken in partnership with Leichhardt Women’s Community Health Centre. It formed the second phase of a project intended to identify the distinctiveness of the approach to depression used by feminist women’s health centres.

The original research found that social determinants play a significant role in emotional health and wellbeing and that women’s empowerment and positive participation in the health system is conducive to health and healing.
In women’s health centres, health and wellbeing are viewed holistically and hence we use a multi-dimensional treatment approach which aims to minimise stress and facilitate healing potential.

The research used pre & post treatment surveys completed by women experiencing depression. These investigated women’s experience of depression and of their treatment. A measurement tool of self-reported depressive symptoms was also used. Women accessed a range of services within the Centres to manage their depression including counsellor, groups, alternative/ natural therapies, doctor.
Feedback from women about aspects of treatment that helped to alleviate their depression were it was affordable, they felt respected, the support was non-judgemental, received help with stressful aspects of their life, received increased social support, received help with physical health.

The research showed that women attend a variety of services to get assistance for depression, that practitioners at women’s health centres have a good understanding of depression and that the safe, welcoming comfortable environment was important.