The links between abuse and women’s mental health can’t be ignored
NOVEMBER 25, 2016
Katharine Sacks-Jones, Director, Agenda
Today is the international day for the elimination of violence against women. A sad reminder of how common violence against women still is around the world and here in the UK.
Research for Agenda, Hidden Hurt, identified a group of women who suffer the most extensive abuse. One in 20 women in England have experienced both physical and sexual abuse as a child and an adult. That is a shocking 1.2 million women who face the devastating and traumatic consequences of abuse on and off right across their lives. It is no surprise that this group face high levels of mental and physical ill health, addiction, poor housing and homelessness and poverty.
Despite this high level of need, too many women report that they can’t get support and instead are being let down by services which don’t recognise the impact of abuse and trauma in their lives. Mental health is a glaring example.
Don’t let young women involved in crime remain the “forgotten few”
NOVEMBER 1, 2016
Max Rutherford, Criminal Justice Programme Manager at Barrow Cadbury Trust
Max Rutherford, Criminal Justice Programme Manager at Barrow Cadbury Trust, applauds the Justice Committee’s “landmark and visionary” report on young adults involved in crime, but urges policy-makers to take on board what it says about the treatment of young women.
Last week, an influential group of cross-party MPs published a “landmark and visionary” report calling for “step change” in the way young adults are managed throughout the criminal justice system. The recommendations, if implemented and pursued by government, mean that young adults would be dealt with as distinct from children and older adults from the point of charging, through the court process and also in prisons. The Justice Select Committee Inquiry on Young Adult Offenders concluded that an approach that takes account of the maturity of young adults would result in fewer victims of crime and less cost.
The growing concern over girls and young women’s mental health
October 24, 2016
Andy Bell, Deputy Chief Executive at the Centre for Mental Health
The recently published government survey of adult mental health and wellbeing in England  brought into sharp focus a growing concern about the mental health of teenage girls and young women.
The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey is conducted every seven years and is the biggest and most reliable survey of the mental health of the adult population of England. The 2014 survey showed a pronounced increase in rates of poor mental health among women aged 16-24, with some 28% having a mental health problem of any kind, nearly 20% disclosing self-harm and more than 12% showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
These results follow a number of surveys of teenage girls and young women that have also shown rising levels of poor mental health which are not evident among young men. In a recent comprehensive review of evidence about children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing , Centre for Mental Health noted that these concerns were being expressed widely and that reliable, relevant help for young women was often not available despite the overwhelming evidence about the human and economic benefits of early intervention.
Keeping Women in Mind on World Mental Health Day
OCTOBER 10, 2016
Katharine Sacks-Jones, Director of Agenda
The most basic thing that any of us would wish, when struggling with mental ill-health, is for treatment which reflects our needs. We would want care which is relevant to our experiences, which recognises us as people, and which holds out hope of good mental health, whatever that looks like for us. For women, though, mental health services too often aren’t considering their specific needs.
Women suffer mental illness at higher rates than men, In an alarming wakeup call NHS Digital research out last week showed that women aged 16-24 are at the highest risk of mental health problems with more than a quarter with a diagnosable mental health condition – our research has shown this gap can be largely explained by women’s greater likelihood of experiencing abuse. There are also gender differences in the kinds of problems men and women face. Women are more likely to suffer anxiety, depression, PTSD, or eating disorders. Men are more likely to face substance misuse, psychosis and are at greater risk of suicide.
The vital role of the VCS in gender-specific mental health provision
September 28, 2016
Dania Hanif, Policy and Communications Officer, Mental Health Provider’s Forum
Mental health problems are extensive but often hidden, with one in four adults experiencing a diagnosable mental health problem in any one year representing the largest single cause of disability in the UK. Women have higher rates of depression and are twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders than men, with the most excluded women and girls, such as those who have experienced extensive abuse and whose lives have spiralled off-course, being particularly vulnerable to mental ill-health.
There has been limited focus on women’s mental health in recent years – except for a specific focus on women’s perinatal services in the recent Five Year Forward View – the Mental Health Taskforce Report does not highlight the differences between men’s and women’s mental health. Women’s life experiences, socio-economic realities, expressions of mental distress, pathways into services, and treatment needs and responses, differ greatly from those of men. Women tend to experience more common mental health disorders than men across their lives – more depression, more anxiety, more eating disorders, more PTSD. However, even with a rising rate of female suicide, women’s mental health needs are not receiving ‘adequate consideration’.
The importance of gender-specific mental health services
SEPTEMBER 27, 2016
Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations at Mind
Recently I heard from the team that run Drayton Park Women’s Crisis House in North London about the service they run for women who have an urgent mental health need. Like many crisis houses it provides a safe space to recover, avoiding a longer and more disruptive stay in hospital. Unlike many others – in fact unlike most other crisis house in the country – it is a women-only service. And because of that, it is able to offer something really quite different and transformative for the 12 women there at any time.
Although mental health problems affect one in four of us, and roughly the same numbers of men as women, there are differences in how problems develop and manifest themselves, as well as the success of different treatments. The route to poor mental health, as well the consequences set in train by a mental health crisis, can be very different for women. For that reason it’s vital that female-only crisis services, such as the one in Drayton Park, are available.