Expert Stresses Importance of Health Care, Screenings for NC Women
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
As National Women's Health Month comes to an end, an expert emphasized the need for increased health care and screenings for women in North Carolina throughout the year, starting with early adulthood.
Dr. Donna O'Shea, OB/GYN and chief medical officer for population health at UnitedHealthcare, stressed the importance of cultivating healthy habits in teenage girls, including proper nutrition, exercise, sleep and mental health care. These are formative years during which mental health care is particularly crucial, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We found that 57% of high school girls have experienced persistent feelings of sadness in the last year," O'Shea reported. "And if we just look back about 10 years ago, that number was only 36%."
O'Shea emphasized the importance of parents being alert to symptoms of depression and anxiety in their children and suggests turning to virtual mental health care options for assistance.
According to data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, more than 11% of children aged between three and 17 in North Carolina were diagnosed with depression or anxiety by a medical professional in 2020.
According to O'Shea, women should stay informed about the proper screenings and care they need as they age, since their requirements may change over time. She added it is essential to engage in proactive measures and take control of one's health as the body changes.
"Well, the good news is that the behavioral health issues that women and people experienced in adolescence tends to decline," O'Shea explained. "But the frequency of other chronic conditions, like high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes really does increase at that time."
O'Shea strongly urged women not to neglect breast- and colon-cancer screenings. She noted the Affordable Care Act has made regular screenings more accessible, but it is crucial for women to check with their insurance providers.
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