Liptember Foundation Addresses Women’s Sacrifice of Mental Health for Others

by Ella

In a troubling trend, Heather Lynn frequently receives phone calls from women voicing the same sentiment: “I’ve booked in your program, but I’m sure there’s somebody else that needs it more than I do… someone else can take my space.” As the general manager at Waves of Wellness, a mental health therapy program that combines nature and therapy, Lynn is witnessing women sidelining their own mental well-being for the sake of others.


The issue of women sacrificing their mental health for the greater good is a matter of concern for Lynn and her Waves of Wellness team. This trend is also recognized by the Liptember Foundation, whose CEO and co-founder, Luke Morris, has observed it in the foundation’s research and fieldwork.


Liptember Foundation’s 2023 Annual Report, released in June this year, highlighted that one in two women in Australia is grappling with a mental health concern. Even more troubling is the fact that over half of these women are refraining from seeking help. Morris emphasizes the need to address this issue, stating, “There’s a trend for women that they don’t prioritize their own mental health. That’s really concerning.”


Starting on September 1, Liptember marks a month dedicated to raising awareness and funds for women’s mental health. The initiative encourages people to wear vibrant colored lipstick to draw attention to the mental health challenges faced by women.


Luke Morris and his friend Renee founded the Liptember Foundation in 2010, prompted by a conversation about the role of gender in mental health. They observed that the national discourse on mental health was not tailored to address the gender-specific challenges that women face. To rectify this, they launched a fundraising initiative, dedicating September to raising both funds and awareness for women’s mental health. This initiative took the form of encouraging women to wear brightly colored lipstick each day of the month.

Over the years, Liptember has significantly grown, raising nearly $14 million to support causes aimed at enhancing women’s mental health. Their approach involves placing a gendered lens on mental health, leading to more accurate research and more effective programs and services.

The 2023 Annual Report shed light on various challenges women encounter. It found that one in two Australian women experienced some form of mental illness in 2022. The report also delved into specific demographics, revealing that one in three Indigenous women and almost half of Australian women aged 18-23 reported instances of self-harm. Additionally, over one in five teenage girls faced eating disorders and self-harm, a rate more than double that of the general population.

While recognizing the complexity of women’s mental health, Morris and the Liptember team strive to tackle the challenges head-on. They utilize the funds raised during the campaign in a strategic and targeted manner, aiming to address key priority areas.

Despite efforts from organizations like Liptember and government initiatives such as the National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030, which prioritizes mental health, Morris acknowledges that there’s still much work to be done. He emphasizes that progress is being made, but more comprehensive efforts are necessary to effectively address women’s mental health.

One organization partnering with Liptember is Waves of Wellness (WOW), which offers unique therapeutic programs. Unlike traditional clinical settings, WOW’s programs combine surfing with cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques, and acceptance commitment therapy. The natural setting and engaging activities foster an environment where participants feel comfortable discussing their mental health challenges.

The partnership between WOW and Liptember aims to help women overcome the tendency to prioritize others over themselves. The hope is that by prioritizing their own well-being, women can create a positive ripple effect on their communities.

Liptember’s commitment to addressing gender-specific mental health challenges and its partnership with organizations like WOW highlight the ongoing efforts to support women’s mental health. As awareness grows and initiatives like Liptember gain traction, the potential for positive change in women’s mental health becomes increasingly evident.


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