This article was authored by Lisa Montague, National Advocacy, Publications and Media Officer for Multiple Sclerosis Australia

Australia’s Women’s Health Week 2020

Women’s Health Week is Australia’s biggest week focusing on good health and wellbeing for women and girls. Participants receive resources, tips and information, to inspire women and girls to learn more and take action.

This year the intense spotlight on health due to COVID-19 made Women’s Health Week even more important. Organizer Jean Hailes invited women to check in on their health and to keep making positive changes.

Due to the high prevalence of women with MS (roughly 75% of people diagnosed in Australia) and as MS is mostly diagnosed when many women are focusing on career and family, we were very keen to be involved in Women’s Health Week from 7-11 September.

Deidre Mackechnie, CEO of MS Australia said: ‘Women are overrepresented in the number of people with MS, so getting involved in Women’s Health Week just made sense for us.’

As a proud Community Partner, MS Australia presented a weeklong program of online events (minor technology issues only!), resources and stories, in collaboration with two of our state/territory MS member organizations –MS Limited and MS Queensland.

Reaching women with MS

During Women’s Health Week 2020, we urged women and girls to get their health concerns checked out and reminded them that any issues, no matter how small, are worth investigating.

We spotlighted and shared messages about MS, what we do, as well as general health and wellbeing, to new audiences around the country.

Our aim was to:

  • Help reach women around Australia with important messages around looking after their general health
  • Help women with MS understand that good health management can help prevent co-morbidities/other conditions and minimise relapses
  • Raise awareness about MS and the work our organisations do

Our online program comprised of Facebook Lives, webinars, news stories and resources. The week kicked off with an introductory video presented by MS Australia CEO Deidre Mackechnie and concluded with two Friday yoga sessions – Part 1 and Part 2.

Our Community Program touched on a variety of important topics, including:

How to maximize healthcare appointments

In the Facebook Live event ‘Finding your voice’, psychologist Dr. Sally Shaw coaches women on how to listen and communicate their needs for better health outcomes.

MS Australia created a digital flyer with ten strategies for maximizing healthcare appointments.  This tool is useful for women and men who are interested in getting more from their healthcare.

Hormones and MS

Neurologist & researcher, Dr. Jeanette Lechner-Scott breaks down the relationship between hormones and MS in this webinar.

The importance of early diagnosis for optimal brain health

This article highlights the importance of early diagnosis through the experiences of two women living with MS.

This webinar with neurologist & researcher Dr. Anneke van der Walt looks at ‘How MS Research is improving Clinical Care for Women’.

You can also take a close look at the relationship between gender and MS with this educational webinar from Dr. Ruth Dobson.

We also presented general information about MS symptoms and mental health.

That’s not all! You can visit these links to see our Women’s Health week resources on:

Our health is more important than ever, in what has been an extraordinary year in Australia with bushfires and COVID-19 placing additional stress on our lives. Our work with Women’s Health Week was a timely reminder for women in and out of the MS community to check in on their health.

We had great feedback from participants around Australia about our Women’s Health Week 2020 Community Program. Alongside high social media engagement, our guest speakers were keen to be involved and it showed! The Week provides a handy framework to work within and collaborate with our state/territory MS member organizations. It is also a terrific opportunity for advocacy, to raise awareness about MS and to create support around specific themes.

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