Mental health charity Mind believes the government’s new
proposals for a mental health strategy for women could bring
benefits and “great innovation” to services.
The government’s consultation paper Women’s Mental Health: Into
the Mainstream, launched last week, aims to tackle major
mental health problems specific to women.
It suggests that key principles, such as access to women staff and
women-only therapy groups, should apply across all mental health
services. Also educational programmes and self-help groups should
be provided and that users access services in a number of ways,
including open access and drop in.
Mind particularly welcomed the guidance on day services in the
community, which suggests health and social care communities
develop a range of women-only day services in their local area. The
guidance recommends these are staffed by women, and take account of
parenting responsibilities and be accessible to all irrespective of
culture and race.
The service should focus on mothers who have a serious mental
illness, women suffering from postnatal depression, self-harmers
and those who are experiencing abuse and violence.
Mind’s chief executive, Richard Brook, said that the single-sex day
services would be “incredibly important” to many women.
“Women need to feel safe and free from any sexual harassment in
community facilities as well as when they are in hospital,” he
The strategy emphasises the need for specialist services for women
with specific problems including personality disorders, eating
disorders, those with a history of violence and abuse and
offenders. Experience of violence and abuse, parenting and caring
responsibilities and physical health should be key factors in
assessment and care planning.
– The consultation will run until 31 December and is at www.doh.gov.uk/mentalhealth/women.htm
- Recognition of gender should be incorporated into research,
service planning, delivery and evaluation.
- Access to female staff, and the acknowledgement of women’s
parenting role should be addressed in all mental health
- Training for mental health practitioners should be
- Acute in-patient services should provide a self-contained,
women only unit.