Guidance for women's mental health strategy launched

Health Minister, Rosie Winterton, today launched guidance for a Women's Mental Health Strategy during a visit to Mental Health services in Sheffield.

Social isolation and poverty are much more common in women, as is the experience of child sexual abuse, domestic violence and sexual violence, the minister said. The complex interplay of all these factors can have a major impact on women's mental health and have wider repercussions as a result of the multiple roles that women adopt in our diverse communities.

The new Implementation Guidance on mainstreaming gender and women's mental health is intended to help those planning and delivering mental health services to understand better what is meant by being sensitive to the needs of women and ensure that women feel better served by the mental health care system in terms of their individual experience.

Ms Winterton said: "The government is taking a wide-ranging approach to tackle the inequalities that persist in our society. Inequalities that, in most cases, still affect more women than men. The needs of women are central to the government's programme of reform and investment in public services and to our commitment to addressing discrimination and inequality. Modernising mental health services is one of our core national priorities."

The guidance recommends that: PCTs and Mental Health Trusts should appoint a senior person responsible for women's mental health; better joined-up working between mental health and primary care trusts, social services, voluntary sector, housing services, criminal justice services and service users to ensure a better service for women's mental health.

The National Institute for Mental Health (England), in conjunction with its development centres, will support the implementation of this guidance on Mainstreaming Gender and Women's Mental Health by establishing a National Gender and Women's Mental Health Programme.

The public consultation, 'Women's Mental Health: Into the Mainstream', ran from October to December 2002, providing an opportunity for the Department of Health to listen to the views of all stakeholders across health and social care. All the comments from the consultation exercise have been considered in this new implementation guidance.


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