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Local News

MI Women’s Health Needs Begin in Adolescence

Credit: iStock

Farah Siddiqi

The need for Michigan women to prioritize their health doesn’t stop when National Women’s Health Month ends this week.

One expert said it is time to remind the women in your life how important their health is, and to not forget the teens.

Dr. Donna O’Shea, OB/GYN and chief medical officer for population health at UnitedHealthcare, said health concerns often surface during the teenage years, so it is critical girls get healthy meals, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and the health screenings and vaccines appropriate for their age.

O’Shea recommended behavioral health issues, like depression and anxiety, should be part of the picture, especially since the pandemic.

“There are so many options that can really make the treatment more convenient and affordable, because we have virtual care options, like psychologists and psychiatrists,” O’Shea pointed out. “Access is actually improved after COVID.”

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates 57% of high school girls have experienced “persistent feelings of sadness” in the last year, which is significantly higher than the 36% reported 10 years ago.

O’Shea suggested a teen’s pediatrician is a great place to start conversations about behavioral health, as they have often seen her for years and have built trust. They can help her recognize things and feelings that are normal parts of development. O’Shea added more school districts also are becoming resources by making student mental health a priority with their counselors.

“So many school communities have really embraced that concept,” O’Shea emphasized. “And it’s great for those schools that can offer those services.”

According to the World Health Organization, half of all mental-health disorders present in adulthood start by age 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated.

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

This story was written by Farah Siddiqi, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.