266377 Serious psychological distress and associated problems among women in California

Monday, October 29, 2012

Elaine Zahnd, PhD , Public Health Institute, Oakland, CA
Roberta Wyn, PhD , Health DATA Program, UCLA Center for Health Policy ResearchHealth DATA Program, Los Angeles, CA
Sue Holtby, MPH , Public Health Institute, Santa Cruz, CA
Background. Women are more likely to report symptoms associated with serious psychological distress (SPD) than men, yet many women do not obtain needed services. Mental Health (MH) impairment has been associated with family dysfunction, intimate partner violence and suicide ideation. Poor mental health among women can also impact their ability to care for their families.

Objectives. California Health Interview Survey data (CHIS 2009) were analyzed to examine the extent of MH need, SPD, associated problems, and utilization of MH services among adult Californian women (n=28,000). The Kessler 6 scale (K6) measured past-year SPD, capturing those with serious mental health risk.

Results. Seventeen percent of women in California reported needing professional help for a MH or emotional problem in 2009. Eight percent (an estimated 1 million) had serious psychological distress (SPD) in the past 12 months, based on their K6 screening scores. Among that group, over 71% reported needing professional help. Those with past year SPD were more likely to report intimate partner violence (36%) than those without SPD (13%), and were more likely to report suicide ideation (39% SPD vs. 8%). Women with SPD symptoms reported considerable family life impairment during the past year (53% severe; 36% moderate; 12% none). Among those reporting SPD and need for MH services, only 32% saw a provider for a MH or alcohol/drug concern in the past year.

Conclusions. These findings emphasize the need for standardized MH screening along with screening for associated problems, and follow-up care in all health care settings.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Diversity and culture
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify the prevalence of mental health need and serious psychological distress (SPD) among adult women in California, and differences among selected demographics. Examine how serious psychological distress (SPD) is associated with other problems, such as delayed or foregone care, intimate partner violence and suicide ideation. Describe how women with past year SPD symptoms experience more problems with daily functioning compared to women without such symptoms. Determine whether women with past year SPD symptoms are more likely to need and utilize mental health services than women without past year SPD symptoms.

Keywords: Women, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a sociologist and senior research scientist at PHI. I have conducted health policy-related research and evaluation projects for more than 40 years. My fields of expertise include adolescent and women’s health, substance abuse, and violence among ethnic and low-income rural and urban groups. I'm the principal investigator evaluating a Mental Health Association of San Francisco program aimed at decreasing stigmas related to mental illness and increasing consumer involvement in policy and advocacy efforts.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3291.0: Psychiatric epidemiology