The joy of being on holiday is guilt free daytime telly viewing. I have watched all kinds of rubbish this week but one thing that caught my eye was on Lorraine Kelly’s show
‘Does your workplace offer any support for women going through menopause?’
Apparently Lorraine is running a series called the ‘M Word’. Now admittedly my original intention was to catch up on high street fashion but I was intrigued to see where the discussion would go.
I’ve shared my own experience in a couple of blogs but it’s something that I continue to learn about and hence want to write about.
So back to the question – I haven’t a clue but my feeling is no. In the NHS if you are pregnant, had a needle stick injury or are stressed then yes, there is support and very good it is too.
However when I went to my local Occupational Health department a few years ago shortly after my diagnosis they didn’t seem to know quite what to do with me. Now don’t get me wrong they were lovely and very sympathetic but that’s as far as it went.
‘Could we tie it into your migraines? That would work as migraine is on our list?’
‘How would that help? I’ve not had a migraine in ages’
‘You know they say that happens with the menopause so that’s good news!’
‘Right………Well, thanks for that. Bye!’
I didn’t really give it anymore thought until this week so I began looking around the internet to see if things had changed.
It’s worth noting that the NHS is 77% female and while the average age of menopause in the UK is 51 there is an increasing number of women under the age of 40 being diagnosed – 750,000. So it’s pretty common.
There are an array of symptoms associated with menopause but the one that stands out is mental health. Many women are so debilitated with depression and anxiety that they’ve had to take time off work with some even leaving altogether. What I found most shocking is that according to the 2014 Nuffield Health survey about a quarter of them thought their mental health problems were simply due to stress.
With that in mind I wonder how much our Occ Health colleagues ask about other menopausal symptoms in women referred with ‘stress’? Perhaps as it doesn’t fit neatly into a list I wouldn’t have thought it’s even considered.
What I have found over the past few years is a total lack of awareness never mind education or discussion. Anything that has been done seems very stop, start.
Now I do admire those who are trying to break this cycle (pardon the pun). Our nursing colleagues seem to have acknowledged it with the Royal College of Nursing and Midwives producing guidance.
Even the Police are taking it seriously – there’s a National Police Menopause Action group with a clearly defined processes and information for managers.
Despite all my searching I couldn’t find anything from the BMA or any other national guidance for that matter. Last week I wrote about a workforce of ghosts and I’m reminded of this again when I think about all the women I encounter on a daily basis.
So on my return to work this week I plan to pop into my Occ Health department to ask them what our local guidance is. If we have none then I will be suggesting that one is developed or consideration given to organising some drop in sessions.
It would be nice to think that working women wouldn’t have to rely on daytime telly as their only resource. If so the only cycle that will continue is that of ignorance….