According to the results of a ‘Freedom of Information’ request released by Agenda – an alliance of more than 60 organisations campaigning for women and children at risk – mental health services across England are not adequately considering the needs of female mental health patients.
The charity reports that out of the 35 who responded to their survey, just one NHS Mental Health Trust had implemented a women’s mental health strategy and, in every other trust, there was no strategy explicitly recognising women’s mental health needs.
Furthermore, 18 responding trusts claimed to have no policy in place on ‘routine enquiry’ (the practice of routinely asking female patients about experience of abuse) – contrary to NICE guidelines – and the vast majority of trusts had no policies on offering proactive support to patients who disclose abuse beyond meeting their safeguarding responsibilities.
Director of Agenda, Katharine Sacks-Jones, said: “Our mental health trusts are not adequately considering the needs of women. Too many women facing poor mental health bounce from crisis to crisis unable to get the help they need. The majority have experienced violence and abuse, and many report needing women-specific spaces to feel safe.”
She continued: “That’s why we’re launching our Women in Mind campaign calling on Government and local mental health trusts to ensure women’s needs are taken into account in mental health strategies and services. And we want to see every female mental health patient asked about her experiences of abuse and violence as standard.”
Previous research conducted by the Alliance found that men and women face different mental health problems, expressed in different ways and rooted in different gendered experiences. In addition, women’s ‘greater’ experiences of abuse, for example, are linked to higher rates of mental ill-health.