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Release: March 5, 2001

[Editors: Reporters interested in attending this conference should call the University of Iowa Center for Conferences and Institutes at (319) 335-4141 or (800) 551-9029.]

University of Iowa conference to focus on women's mental health March 29-31

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa conference, "Women's Mental Health Through the Life Cycle: Mood, Food and Sex," will be March 29-31 at the Sheraton Iowa City Hotel to address policy and practice related to new models of mental health care for women.

Physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, other health care professionals, students and interested members of the public are invited to attend the event. Advanced conference registration is requested by March 20.

UI researchers will be joined by other nationally known experts to discuss how to advance women's mental health issues and re-orient medical practice to include appropriate gender-based approaches. The conference also aims to promote health services development for the evolving UI Women's Health Center and identify cross-disciplinary research opportunities.

The event will be hosted by the UI College of Medicine and the UI Office of the Associate Provost for Health Sciences, with assistance from the UI Women in Science and Engineering Program and the UI Colleges of Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy.

The three-day program includes scientific and public education presentations on the subjects of mood, food and sex. Specific topics addressed March 29-30 will include premenstrual dysphoric disorder, major depression, women and suicide, anorexia and bulimia, obesity, light therapy, menopause and sexual side effects of antidepressants. Workshops presented on March 31 will cover such topics as cross-cultural issues in health care, relationships between mental health and physical health, health issues for lesbians, and domestic violence.

The conference planning committee is chaired by Katherine Wisner, M.D., UI Helen C. Levitt Visiting Professor, who is director of Women's Mental HealthCARE at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland.

"We hope this conference will be a platform for conversation between both scientific and lay experts about policy in women's mental health," Wisner said. "We will focus on women's mental health, not mental illness, and celebrate the strengths and spirit of women."

Iowa's First Lady Christie Vilsack is scheduled to give the Friday evening keynote address on "Mobilizing Political Systems to Enhance Women's Health Issues." Vilsack will be joined by Laura Schweitzer, Ph.D., associate vice president for faculty affairs and interim dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Louisville, who will speak about strategies to increase the number of women in leadership roles at academic health centers.

Other featured speakers will include L.K. George Hsu, M.D., director of the Eating Disorders Program at Tufts University/New England Medical Center School of Medicine; Arnold Andersen, M.D., director of the UI Eating Disorders Program; and Linda Austin, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina and author/talk show host. In addition, Kate Dillon, a professional model who has recovered from anorexia, will present a talk on "Media Portrayal of Women's Bodies."

The conference is supported in part by the UI Helen C. Levitt Visiting Professorship and by a grant from Pfizer, Inc.

Conference fees are $275 for physicians (includes CME); $200 for nurses, psychologists, social workers, members of the general public, and people wishing to earn general university education units; and $100 for students (current student ID required). The fee includes all program materials, three continental breakfasts, two lunches and an evening banquet.

For more information or to register for the conference, call the University of Iowa Center for Conferences and Institutes at (319) 335-4141 or (800) 551-9029.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.