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- Given Close Links Between Mental and Sexual Health, One Can’t Be Treated Without the Other, Health Unit Says -

When it comes to treating matters of the heart like sex, local health care providers need to address a person’s mental well-being as well.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is encouraging health care providers and local residents to have open conversations about mental and sexual health. This call to action comes during Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Week (February 12 to 16) in Canada.

“Mental health and sexual/reproductive health are key parts of our overall health, but are often taboo topics to raise, even between patients and health care providers,” says Lisa Davey, a Sexual Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit. “If people don’t feel comfortable raising these issues with their health care providers, who can they go to for help?”

“Stigma, shame, embarrassment and fear prevent people from bringing up topics related to sexual and mental health,” adds Tammy Thomson, a Public Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit. “The stigma needs to be overcome, especially when more research supports a close link between mental and sexual/reproductive health.”

In her work at the Health Unit with new and expectant mothers, Thomson points to depression and anxiety that can occur during and after pregnancy. “This can have a serious big impact on the health of parents and their babies,” she adds.

Davey sees similar connections in her role as a sexual health nurse. “Depression can impact people’s sex drives, which can affect their relationships and ability to nurture intimacy with partners,” she says. “This can also have consequences.”

Mental health conditions have been shown to increase the risk of getting HIV. In addition, people who live with HIV can be impacted by depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Canadian studies also suggest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are more likely than heterosexuals to report unmet mental health needs.

To help people better connect mental health and sexual health, the Health Unit is highlighting a variety of resources available on the Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Week website. Included is a How to Make Connections guidebook that can help health care providers create a caring environment where patients/clients are more comfortable talking about mental health and sexual health.

For more information on sexual and reproductive health, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 or visit www.hkpr.on.ca.

For media inquiries, contact:

Lisa Davey, Sexual Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2311,

or Tammy Thomson, Family Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1214.

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