Equality in mental health care for girls and women will require concerted action from across the health and care system and beyond, Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sarah Hughes said today.
Welcoming the publication of the final report of the Women’s Mental Health Taskforce, Sarah Hughes said: “Rates of mental ill health are higher among women than men. Women who have been through violence and abuse have an especially high risk of poor mental health and they need responses from public services that understand and seek to mitigate the impact of trauma.
“Today’s report clearly demonstrates the need for concerted action to ensure that all mental health services are able to respond to the distinctive needs of women of all ages. They need to offer effective support to women who have experienced violence and abuse, creating a safe environment for women to be in and trusting relationships with staff. They need to support women who have parenting or caring responsibilities. And they need to be aware of the multiple inequalities experienced by women from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
Today’s report clearly demonstrates the need for concerted action to ensure that all mental health services are able to respond to the distinctive needs of women
“The report includes some important commitments from national bodies to take action on its findings. We particularly welcome the Health and Justice system pledges to develop distinctive ‘women’s pathways’ in liaison and diversion services, for better use of Community Sentence Treatment Requirements and to improve trauma support for women in prison.
“We are concerned, however, that the implications of this report are not matched by clear and measurable commitments from the Government and its executive agencies to bring about the level of change we expect to see. Mental health support for women needs to be redesigned fundamentally. Trauma-informed care should be offered routinely across the NHS and beyond, with a workforce that is trained, supervised and supported to meet women’s needs effectively. Women’s family and caring responsibilities must be respected and supported throughout the system. And women who have experienced multiple discrimination and disadvantage need to be recognised and supported appropriately.
The implications of this report are not matched by clear commitments from the Government and its executive agencies to bring about the level of change we expect to see. Mental health support for women needs to be redesigned fundamentally.
“This must be included in the NHS long-term plan in order to ensure that the principles set out in today’s report and put into practice, with clear accountability for making change system-wide. And once again this report underlines the need for a cross-Government mental health strategy that places mental health at the heart of all public services and policies and that seeks to reduce inequalities in mental health nationwide.”
Centre for Mental Health is working with the Mental Health Foundation and other national charities to support the Taskforce recommendations with guidance about trauma informed care for women in a range of public services, including health, care, schools, emergency services and the criminal justice system.