Women in Mind
Agenda’s campaign to keep women’s mental health needs in mind
What is Women in Mind?
Women with mental health problems, especially those with experience of violence, abuse and trauma, struggle to get the vital support they need from mental health services. Our campaign, Women in Mind, calls for women’s needs, and in particular their experience of abuse and violence, to be prioritised and taken seriously in policy, strategy and delivery.
The Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill – aimed at reducing the use of restraint – has now become law after getting Royal Assent on November 1st . It will improve the experiences of thousands of women and girls in mental health facilities, many of whom have experienced abuse, and for many of whom the use of restraint may be re-traumatising.
Thank you to our campaigners for writing to their MPs and raising awareness in support of this bill.
Following Agenda’s Women in Mind campaign, the Department of Health set up the Women’s Mental Health Taskforce aimed at improving women’s mental health. It is co-chaired by Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price MP and Agenda’s Chief Executive Katharine Sacks-Jones and brings together experts on women’s mental health, including key national organisations responsible for policy, commissioning and the delivery of services, including NHS England and Public Health England. It is due to report in November.
Mental Health Act Review
The Government has commissioned an Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, Chaired by Simon Wessely. Agenda is campaigning to ensure that the Review takes into account women and girls’ particular needs. Read our Women in Crisis report and our submission to the Review’s call for evidence here.
Our research showed that 32 women detained under the Mental Health Act died after being restrained over a five year period. Previous data obtained by Agenda highlighted the alarming and unacceptable use of physical restraint, including face-down, on women and girls admitted to mental health units. It showed one in five women and girls were physically restrained, while face-down restraint was used repeatedly on girls particularly.
We launched Women in Mind with the results of a Freedom of Information Request which showed that mental health services across England are not properly considering the needs of women.
Only 1 out of 35 who responded had a women’s mental strategy and half (18) had no policy on ‘routine enquiry’ (the practice of routinely asking female patients about experience of abuse), which is contrary to NICE guidelines. Read more here.
Read Rachel’s story, and find out more about the importance of mental health services that prioritise women’s needs.