Women in Mind: Writing to your MP
I am writing in support of a new campaign launched by Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk. Women in Mind is raising awareness of how women with mental health problems, especially those with experience of violence, abuse and trauma struggle to get the support they need from mental health services.
It is well recognised that men and women face different mental health problems, expressed in different ways and rooted in different gendered experiences. Women’s greater experiences of abuse, for example, are linked to higher rates of mental ill-health. Recent research for NHS Digital found that a shocking 1 in 5 16-to-24-year-old women reported having self-harmed and post-traumatic stress disorder in young women was found to have trebled to 13% in the last 7 years.
Agenda’s recent Freedom of Information request to NHS mental health trusts found that only one, out of 35 who responded, had a women’s mental health strategy and just over half of responding trusts (18) had no policy on routinely asking female patients about experience of abuse, which is contrary to NICE guidelines.
Women in Mind is calling for an urgent focus on women’s mental health covering prevention, crisis and recovery. The soon to be appointed Mental Health Equalities Champion must focus on women’s mental health and champion a gender-informed approach across the treatment spectrum. Women need to be routinely asked about their experiences of abuse & violence and offered proper support including from experts. For those who have suffered abuse and may be vulnerable, the choice of women-only spaces where they can feel safe is really important. Without this help traumatized girls and women can spiral from crisis to crisis, with huge resulting costs to them, their families and society as a whole
As my local MP, please can you raise these issues with Nicola Blackwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health. I would also be grateful if you could contact our local mental health trust to find out how they consider the needs of women in their strategy, planning, policies and service design and delivery.
I look forward to hearing from you on these important issues.