ABOUT 50 per cent of the 4694 patients presented for psychiatric assessment at Suva's St Giles Hospital last year were women affected by various social issues.
Hospital medical superintendent Dr Peni Biukoto said the presence of severe symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, psychosis and mood disturbances "may occur in the context of psychosocial stressors, like marital problems, relationship problems, severe and prolonged abuse".
He said the percentage of women examined was similar to those evaluated in 2012.
"For the years 2013 and 2012, the percentage of female patients seen remained steady at 49 per cent," he said.
"The women need assistance of medication in addition to counselling and psychosocial support if they are assessed to suffer from mental illness or symptoms that severely disturb their daily living."
Dr Biukoto said comparatively, most females who were presented to community-based counsellors suffered milder symptoms arising from psychosocial stressors.
"Females who were presented to community-based counsellors often needed only counselling and psychosocial support to achieve recovery."
The Fiji Times approached Dr Biukoto after noticing an increase in the number of women beggars on streets of Lautoka City.
Some appeared to be mentally ill.
"The issues that drive persons who suffer from mental illness to live on the streets are varied and multiple," said Dr Biukoto.
"Issues can be categorised along individual factors and psychosocial factors.
"Some symptoms of severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder can severely distort the perceptions, impair judgement, and reality contact of the sufferer and may cause the individual to neglect their roles and responsibilities and leave their homes, communities, or places of employment."
Dr Biukoto added severe drug intake, among other reasons, could also result in individuals suffering similar disorders.