Study on Women’s and Children’s Health Statistics / Public Press Service

AUSTIN, Texas – Access to mental health resources is not always available through insurance plans, but those who receive these services should take advantage of them, urged the United Health Foundation’s 2021 report on the health of women and children.

It’s one of the takeaways from the United Health Foundation’s 2021 “Women’s and Children’s Health Report.” The report is based largely on 2019 federal data leading up to the pandemic and shows that the loss of health insurance for children in Texas has accelerated. This can cause stress for families, according to Assistant Professor Stephanie Peebles Tavera of Texas A&M University in Killeen.

“Lack of access to safe housing, or food resources or water,” Peebles Tavera pointed out. “If you have a food shortage in your community, of course you’re going to put personal stress on your body and of course that’s going to affect your child.”

Teen suicide has increased 41% in Texas since 2014, with about 12 reported deaths per 100,000 teens ages 15-19. In contrast, drug-related deaths among women in Texas were low at 8.5%, compared to 67% for women in West Virginia during the recent Study Period.

Dr. Ravi Johar, chief medical officer at UnitedHealthcare, said recent findings show that mental distress in women aged 18 to 44 was high, with Hispanic women most affected.

“Surprisingly, about one in five women, just over 18% of women in the United States, said that in the past 30 days, 14 of them felt mentally unwell,” Johar reported. “So for more than half the month, one in five women felt unwell.”

Peebles Tavera will publish a book next year, “(P)rescription Narratives: Feminist Medical Fiction and the Failure of American Medicine,” which details the ways American medicine has failed women.

She pointed out that the law effectively banning abortions in Texas and encouraging people to report those seeking them dates back 150 years, to the Comstock Act of 1873, which controlled access to birth control.

“The biggest problem I see is the recreation of a culture of shame around women’s bodies,” Peebles Tavera said. “Not only do you have control of women’s bodies under federal law and lack of access to resources, but you also have citizen policing.”

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