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Sadness and stress growing for women

Women in Britain are less likely than those living in EU countries to have received preventative care in the past year. This means that fewer British women have had vital screening for a range of conditions including cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and sexually transmitted infections than the EU average. Is it any wonder British women are less happy with their lot?

Recent news that women in Britain report feeling sadder and more stressed than women in Europe came as uncomfortable, if unsurprising, reading.

A new global survey* revealed that, compared with 2020, levels of stress along with feelings such as worry, sadness, and anger had all increased for British women. In Europe, however, the story is more hopeful, with women there reporting that such negative feelings have either stayed the same since 2020 or slightly improved.

Why was I not surprised to read this? Because, put simply, like most of us who work in the field of women’s health and wellbeing (and from my own experience!), I am all too aware of the challenges British women currently face.

Despite assurances from the government that women’s health is a national priority, with its women’s health strategy a headline-grabbing centrepiece, women are not feeling better supported. In fact, for many women, their multifaceted wellbeing needs are not being met at all.

It’s starting to look like we’re taking a step backwards which is particularly frustrating when other countries seem to be continuing to up the ante when it comes to preventative healthcare and research.

According to the Hologic survey, women in Britain were less likely than those living in EU countries to have received preventative care in the past year. This means that fewer British women have had vital screening for a range of conditions including cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and sexually transmitted infections than the EU average. Is it any wonder British women are less happy with their lot?

How can employers help?

Against this unhappy backdrop, how can employers help navigate these issues and ensure that their female employees are happier, healthier, and less stressed? Is it even a problem employers should try to fix?

For me, the answer is that it is a no-brainer for employers to do what they can to make their employee’s lives better. This seems like solid common sense when it comes to creating a positive and productive workplace. But the impact of employer health and wellness benefits does not end there. With a war for talent showing no sign of cooling down, a thoughtfully curated range of employee benefits could help bring talent through an employer’s door as well as keeping them happy while they’re there.

Our own research has shown that more than half (58 percent) of UK employees have taken or considered a new job because it offers family health or reproductive benefits. 26 percent of UK employees we surveyed admitted that having a benefit that prepares them to have a family, such as preconception genetic testing and learning about ovulation and sperm health, would influence them to take a new job.

 At the other end of a woman’s fertility journey, a quarter of employees believe that menopause support is also an important benefit. This menopause support could be nothing more than an electric fan placed on a desk, but it could also be about access to counselling services, a consultation with a specialist doctor or flexible working. With NHS data showing that menopausal women are part of the fastest-growing workplace demographic, making provision to look after these women’s specific, individual wellbeing needs could prove game-changing for an employer.

Women’s and family healthcare benefits should no longer be viewed as a niche. They are needed and wanted more than ever.

We have a clear opportunity not only to catch up with the levels of health and wellbeing women enjoy in Europe, but to change the conversation, empower women with healthcare that addresses their needs and lead the way.

 

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