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As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.

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Report shows uptick in mental health concerns for MI women

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Friday, November 3, 2023   

Michigan women have mental-health concerns at rates higher than the national average, according to a new report.

The United Health Foundation reported that the number of women between ages 18 and 44 in Michigan who cite "frequent mental distress" jumped to more than 25% in 2021 from 18% just five years earlier.

Marnie Leavitt, executive director of the Women's Center of Southeast Michigan, said social media and ease of access to information have led to an overall uptick in anxiety and depression - and a world in turmoil isn't helping.

"People feel helpless and more aware of the ongoing war in Ukraine and the new war in the Middle East," she said, "in which we have a great awareness that the primary victims of those conflicts are women and children."

Leavitt added that concerns about climate change and their children's education are other top contributors to mental distress for Michigan women. The report also ranked Michigan 44th among states for a high number of women with multiple chronic health conditions and 45th for illicit drug use.

Leavitt said women coming out of the pandemic have faced an unusual set of circumstances that can't help but affect their mental health.

"Educated with high student loans, unable to get jobs," she said. "Now, the job market has opened up. Despite the upticks in what people are making for salaries, in the Ann Arbor area, people are still almost unable to pay their rent."

Dr. Lisa Saul, national medical director for maternal and child health at UnitedHealthcare, said mortality rates for women have increased about 40% between 2019 and 2021. Maternal mortality rates increased 29% in that time period. She said it's important to acknowledge the racial disparities in these figures and address them to keep people healthy before, during and after pregnancy.

"For both maternal mortality as well as for severe maternal morbidity," she said, "we're seeing increases in the American Indian and Alaska Native populations that seems to be a new trend."

The United Health Foundation report also contains some positive findings. Michigan ranks in the top 10 among states for women having health insurance, getting cervical-cancer screenings and exercising.

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


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