Categories
Recruitment Wish

We’re Hiring: Advocate, Sheffield

We’re hiring an independent mental health advocate to provide gender-specific advocacy for women in Cygnet Hospital, Sheffield.

Please note that we are also advertising for a role in Doncaster and would consider combining the two roles for the right candidate. You would need to travel by car. You can see the application pack for that role here.

Wish is a user-led campaigning organisation providing long-term, gender-specific, trauma-informed services and support to women and girls in their journey through the mental healthcare and criminal justice systems, and in the community. You can find out more about us here.

Advocacy role, Cygnet Hospital
Cygnet Hospital, Sheffield

Job description

We are looking to appoint a part-time Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) to be based at Cygnet Hospital, Sheffield (83 East Street, Sheffield, S2 3PX). The advocate will provide statutory advocacy, following Wish’s model of Gender Specific Advocacy, to enable women to address issues around treatment and care, and to support the process of self-advocacy.

Hours: 7 hours per week

Pay: FTE 25,481 – 27,041 pro rata (experience dependent, within NJC scale 19-22).

Candidates should have experience:

  • Working as an advocate
  • With women and/or girls as a principal client group
  • Or empowering individuals with complex needs.

As a user-led organisation, Wish welcomes applications from women with experience of using mental health services.

Please find the application pack below, including:

  • Cover letter
  • Job description
  • Application form
  • Equal opportunities monitoring form. The data from this form will only be used for general statistical and monitoring purposes and will not be taken into account when assessing your application
  • General information about Wish.

Please return the form by 5pm on Monday 10th May 2021 by email to Maria Ryan (m.ryan@womenatwish.org.uk).

Closing date: 5pm Monday 10th May 2021

Sheffield Advocacy Cover Letter

Sheffield Advocacy Application Form

Sheffield Advocacy Job Description

Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form

Wish General Information

Categories
Recruitment Wish

We’re hiring: Advocate, Doncaster

We’re hiring an independent mental health advocate to provide gender-specific advocacy for women in Cheswold Park Hospital, Doncaster.

Please note that we are also advertising for a role in Sheffield and would consider combining the two roles for the right candidate. You would need to travel by car. You can see the application pack for that role here.

Wish is a user-led campaigning organisation providing long-term, gender-specific, trauma-informed services and support to women and girls in their journey through the mental healthcare and criminal justice systems, and in the community. You can find out more about us here.

We're hiring an independent mental health advocate
Cheswold Park Hospital, Doncaster

Job description

We’re hiring a part-time Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) to be based at Cheswold Park Hospital, Doncaster. The advocate will provide statutory advocacy, following Wish’s model of Gender Specific Advocacy, to enable women to address issues around treatment and care, and to support the process of self-advocacy.

Hours: 5 hours per week (increasing to 10 hours per week as soon as Covid restrictions allow)

Pay: FTE 25,481 – 27,041 pro rata (experience dependent, within NJC scale 19-22).

Candidates should have experience:

  • Working as an advocate
  • With women and/or girls as a principal client group
  • Or empowering individuals with complex needs.

As a user-led organisation, Wish welcomes applications from women with experience of using mental health services.

How to apply

Please find the application pack below, including:

  • Cover letter
  • Job description
  • Application form
  • Equal opportunities monitoring form. The data from this form will only be used for general statistical and monitoring purposes and will not be taken into account when assessing your application
  • General information about Wish.

Please return the form by 5pm on Monday 10th May 2021 by email to Maria Ryan (m.ryan@womenatwish.org.uk).

Closing date: 5pm Monday 10th May 2021

Doncaster Advocacy Cover Letter

Doncaster Advocacy Application Form

Doncacter Advocacy Job Description

Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form

Wish General Information

Categories
Recruitment

We’re hiring: Director of Operations

Wish is at an exciting point in our journey. As a result, we’re hiring a Director of Operations to lead and coordinate the development and delivery of services for women and professionals. They’ll support Wish as we move to our next stage of strategic development, working with service managers, the director and other members of the team to ensure services are running smoothly. 

Hours: 15 hours per week
Salary: £40,395 – £43,353 pro rata, including London weighting.

For more information on the Director of Operations role, and to download the job pack, see below.

Please return your application by 12.00pm on 15th October 2020 to: Joyce Kallevik, j.kallevik@womenatwish.org.uk. 

Interviews will take place during the week of 19th October 2020 via Zoom. If you have any questions about the role, feel free to get in touch with Emily: e.reynolds@womenatwish.org.uk.

About Wish

Wish is a user-led women’s mental health charity. Since 1987, we’ve been supporting women in prison, hospital and the community, and we currently offer a range of services including advocacy, counselling, the Community Link project, gender training, campaigning and more.

We provide advocacy within prison and hospital, ensuring women get their voices heard. We have piloted low-cost and free counselling, which we are rolling out further this year. And our Community Link project supports 78 of the most vulnerable women in 18 London boroughs as they move from the criminal justice and mental healthcare systems into the community, providing intensive and individual support with housing, budgeting and finances, socialising and peer support, work and career goals and in helping women use their resilience, skills and talents to live the life they want. 

More details on Wish and the work we do is available in the General Information section of the job pack. 

Job Pack

Categories
Coronavirus Resources

Coronavirus: dealing with bereavement

Dealing with bereavement is never easy.

But it could be especially difficult at the moment as you also face many other stresses. Coronavirus has left many of us feeling isolated; we may also be dealing with job losses, precarious finances and more.

We’ve already written guides on how to manage your mental health during this time, and we’ll also be updating our blog with details on how to manage finances too. In this blog, we’ll be looking at loss and sharing some things that might help you cope.

Bereavement and loss

Even if you don’t have mental health problems or a history of trauma, loss can be an extremely difficult thing to experience. You may feel grief for many reasons: the death of a loved one, a serious illness or the end of a relationship, for example.

Some of the most common symptoms, according to the NHS, are:

  • shock and numbness – this is usually the first reaction to loss, which people often talk about as “being in a daze”
  • overwhelming sadness and crying
  • tiredness or exhaustion
  • anger towards the person you’ve lost or the reason for your loss
  • guilt – about feeling angry, about something you said or didn’t say, or not being able to stop your loved one dying

These symptoms may not come immediately, or they might surface a long time after a bereavement happens. There is no ‘right’ way to grieve.

How to get support with bereavement

how to deal with bereavement and coronavirus

To start, there are a number of hotlines you can call which will help you through your bereavement. You can contact Cruse on 0808 808 1677; they have specialist teams who can help you with whatever you’re struggling with. They’re also updating their resources around coronavirus in particular, so if someone close to you passes away from Covid they will be able to help.

Talking to friends and family is also a good option. At times, you may not know how you feel: talking this through with people you trust can help you process what you’re going through.

Being kind to yourself is also key. If you are going through significant grief, there may be times you don’t want to get out of bed, eat or do anything at all. This is perfectly normal, and you should try your best not to feel frustrated with yourself or push yourself too hard to do anything you feel you ‘should’ be doing but aren’t up to.

However, you may also want to create a short routine. This doesn’t have to be anything too taxing or complex – it could be something as small as getting out of bed at a certain time or trying to eat at least a few times a day. Again, it’s important you don’t push yourself too hard and give yourself the space to grieve. But creating some structure in your day may make things easier.

Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. If things are getting really hard, you may want to contact your GP; updated telephone opening hours should be on their website. They may be able to signpost you to specialist services. If you already have a care coordinator or other support worker, don’t be afraid to ask for support from them.

Get in touch

If there’s anything you think we’ve missed, or you have some tips on how to cope with bereavement, please get in touch.

Categories
Coronavirus Resources

Coronavirus: managing your mental health

The coronavirus outbreak has changed all of our lives – and had a significant impact on mental health. We’ve already outlined some of the things you might be going through at the moment – not being able to go outside for days at a time, decreased contact with friends and family, higher exposure to the news, loss of earnings or work opportunities.

Coronavirus and mental health

There are lots of ways coronavirus could be impacting how you’re feeling.

You might be missing family, struggling without support networks, or wishing you could get outside more. And with 24 hour rolling news channels and social media, it can be extremely hard to switch off.

We’ve put together some resources below on how you can manage your mental health during this period. If you have any particular coping strategies or tips that you’d like to share with us, or a topic you want to see us cover, get in touch with Emily at emilyoliviareynolds@gmail.com.

Self care

A good routine can help your mental health through coronavirus

With such upheaval, it’s likely that your normal routine has gone out of the window. Trying to establish some kind of routine may mitigate some of this.

  • The Mental Health Foundation suggests planning your day in advance. Try to get up at the same time you normally would, and specifically schedule in certain things. Know when you’re going to shower, set aside time to go outside and exercise (even a walk is great), and time for relaxation.
  • Going outside may make you feel better. If you have a garden, try to spend time in that: you are also allowed to go for one walk a day, which we highly recommend you do if you can. If you can’t, open a window in your flat and try to get some fresh air and sunlight.
  • Moving your body will also help. A once a day walk is a good start, as is going for a run or cycle ride. If you have to stay indoors, you can still move your body! There are plenty of online exercise videos if you want to do something like aerobics, and yoga and pilates classes are available on YouTube – Yoga With Adriene even has yoga for wheelchair users or those who have limited mobility. Just dancing around the room can make you feel good, or going for a gentle walk in a garden or outdoor space if you can.
  • Monitor your sleep. Many people will be having difficult sleeping at the moment due to changes in routine, lack of direct light, and moving around or exercising less. Going outside once a day can help with this or, as mentioned above, opening a window and getting some fresh air.There are also other things you can do to help your sleep. Get up and go to bed at the same time, establishing a proper routine. Try to keep electronics out of your bedroom if you can, and try not to look at your phone, laptop or TV for an hour or so before bed.
  • Try to tune out of social media. It’s natural to want to keep up with what’s going on in the world. But compulsively checking social media can seriously impact your mental health, making you feel fearful and anxious. It can be difficult, especially if your phone is your line of communication with friends, family and the world, but setting short periods of time to be away from your phone can really help.

Community

Community may help your mental health during the coronavirus crisis.

Making sure you’re well connected during this time can be a big help for your mental health.

You may find it helpful to:

  • Regularly schedule calls with loved ones. This can be something as simple as a ten minute phone call every day, but you can schedule other activities. Netflix Party lets you watch films on Netflix with your friends, meaning you can chat and watch films or TV together even when apart. Some people have also been using Skype or Zoom to host trivia quizzes for friends and family. Staying connected is really important, so find out what works well for you.
  • Join your local mutual aid group. Across the country, people have been teaming up to offer community support, help and advice to those in their area. They’re doing shopping for people, picking up medication, checking in on vulnerable people or offering moral support or just conversation.If you’re vulnerable, you may find these groups useful for helping you do shopping or access community support. And if you want to donate time or energy to helping your neighbours, you may find a feeling of solidarity and community. Find your local mutual aid group here.
  • Join chats with activist or support groups. Alongside mutual aid groups, lots of activist groups have been organising to keep people connected. The Survivors Library, which creates and collects resources by, for, or about abuse and assault survivors, is hosting regular chats through April, and a group called Mad Covid is also acting as a community space to help people with mental illness or distress through the current situation.
  • Keep in touch with mental health workers or carers. If they haven’t already been in contact, call or email support workers to see what support they can offer you. If you’re in therapy, check to see if your therapist can help you remotely. Many psychotherapists now offer online or telephone sessions – and while these may not work for you, they are worth trying.

Further resources

We’ll be writing regular blogs over the next few weeks to help you cope with coronavirus. These will include posts on finances and money and on bereavement.

If there’s anything you want to see us cover, or you’d like to write about your experiences, let us know. You can find us on Facebook or Twitter, or contact us here.

Categories
Coronavirus Resources

Coronavirus: dealing with the outbreak

The ongoing situation with coronavirus is not easy for anybody’s mental health or wellbeing. 

At the moment, government advice is that you can go outside for one form of exercise per day, and that you can also leave the house to get food, for health reasons, if you are a key worker, or if you’re caring for vulnerable people. 

While outside, stay six feet (two metres) away from others at all times. You should also wash your hands for at least twenty seconds after you’ve gone outside. 

If you want more information on what’s going on, we recommend you look at reputable news sources such as the BBC or the Guardian. The Guardian currently has a useful set of explainers on its site. 

For medical information or guidance on what you should be doing, don’t rely too heavily on social media. Facebook and Twitter often contain fake news and misinformation, which can add to feelings of fear, anxiety and confusion. Instead, check with the World Health Organisation or the NHS, who will only be sharing verified information. 

Helping you cope with coronavirus

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing information to help you deal with what’s going on. You’ll be able to find all of these posts by clicking here

This will include posts on:

  • Coronavirus and mental health – how to keep up with self care and manage your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
  • How to practically deal with isolation – how to keep in touch with friends and loved ones, make sure you’re getting enough fresh air, and checklists on things you might need at home
  • Money management and finances – how to apply for universal credit, how to access food banks and more
  • Bereavement – how to deal with the loss of loved ones
  • Mutual Aid – how to get involved in or get help from local mutual aid groups.

If there’s any information you think we’re missing, or you’d like to see a blog on a particular topic, please get in touch with our Policy and Campaigns Manager at emilyoliviareynolds@gmail.com

Categories
Community Link Criminal Justice Women's Mental Health Network

Community Link – Roxanne’s story

Guest post by Penny Bennett – Community Link Manager

Roxanne is a woman in her thirties who has been to prison several times. We are talking in the little room that Wish uses to meet women who have been referred to our services.  She has been recalled to prison for a few weeks for a minor breach of her probation conditions. These can be nothing more serious than being late for an appointment.

Wish is a charity working exclusively with women, providing advocacy, counselling and support services for women in prison, hospital and the community. Wish provides specialist gender specific services and has worked for 27 years in HMP Holloway and other prisons.  Wish started by advocating for women’s needs in high secure hospitals including Broadmoor 30 years ago.

The public often think that people are in prison for doing something really bad, but we might remember that some acts such as suicide and abortion were once crimes and now are not. Many women who Wish support through the criminal justice system have committed offences which are related to their poor mental health, such as calling emergency services too often, self-harming in a public place or disrupting the flow of traffic when in distress. Unfortunately, there are not appropriate services or enough services to help these women.

Many other women are in prison because of an act that they have committed for a man, such as theft, drug dealing or importation. Some women were trying to defend themselves or seek “justice” after a rape or assault where the police have not prosecuted or protected them. Abuse, inequality and gender based violence feature largely, even occasional bullying by male solicitors. Imprisonment disrupts women’s lives, their children’s and ripples out to the wider community. Why are so many women remanded for non-violent offences? As Baroness Corston pointed out in her report in 2007, most women need therapeutic help rather than to be contained in prison.

Roxanne seems despondent and resigned to being released to the same situation as previously i.e. homelessness. It seemed unlikely the prison would be able to locate accommodation for her in the last three days before her release. With no local address, services cannot be set up before release.

I have a sense of Roxanne’s potential to do well in better circumstances as she listened carefully and responded well. I feel frustrated that the system within which we are working is so restrictive, constraining our abilities to help people, and stopping people from achieving their potential in life; also, at the pointlessness of recalling a woman to prison for a few weeks, and then releasing her to exactly the same situation. What a waste of money and squandering of a chance for a woman to reach her potential.

I thought to myself “What can I do for this woman, I only have half an hour with her, is there anything I can do?”  I had never met her before, this would be my only meeting with her. What can you do when you can’t do anything?

We discussed what she was going to do on her release. I talked her through her plan A and plan B. Did she have family or friends to go to, if no hostel was found in the next 3 days? Was she going to try not to use drugs? How would she look after her mental health and emotional wellbeing?

It is not always like this. Usually there is time to meet women several times, or many times over long time periods and develop rapport and a relationship. As Justine Howard, an advocate at Wish blogged, “having an advocate who spends time getting to know a woman helps them to feel cared for and safe.” “Safe” in this context means that a secure relationship, in which both parties know each other well, allows the gentle challenging of service users’ beliefs, in the knowledge that the relationship allows them to tolerate this. Women are also more likely to take positive suggestions on board as they have confidence in our motives for making these suggestions as Wish is a user-led organisation. A longer time period leads to a greater knowledge of the women themselves, how to engage them and what their aspirations are.

However, I take the view that every interaction between Wish and a service user is an opportunity for engagement, and I am keen to make the most of this brief contact with Roxanne. In short sessions like these it is important to develop rapport swiftly, and it is better to avoid discussing traumatic experiences that service users have been through, as they are then left unsupported to deal with the feelings brought up in the session; the discussion needs to be practical. Roxanne’s openness also means we can talk through her options and make an efficient use of the time available. She makes the very valid point that it will be hard for her to try to not use drugs, if the only option for accommodation on her release is to return to a circle of acquaintances who are also drug users. There is a major crisis in housing provision at the moment.

This is the work that I do with Wish’s Community Link Project; helping women to prepare for their release and assisting them through the transition period after release. Usually there is more time to work with women and Wish can provide counselling , but at other times practical discussion of options and information as well as emotional support is what is best in a short space of time. Wish can also help women deal with the stress of their trial, the impact of their sentence and other issues such as loss and trauma.

I gave her the telephone numbers of Streetlink, Wish and a local women’s centre. I spent some time building up her sense of self-worth, emphasising her potential, that she was intelligent, young, that her chaotic lifestyle had not yet left its mark on her and that she could work towards changing her life. “If you don’t make this effort, there is no guarantee anyone else will do it for you.” This was perhaps the most useful thing I could do for her in the brief time we had together, and she went away appearing to be more positive. I don’t know what happened to her; however she has not come back into prison, which is a good thing.

Categories
Gender Specific Advocacy Women's Mental Health Network

Gender Specific Advocacy and why it works

Guest post by Justine Howard, Wish Advocate working in the North West

Advocacy word cloud

Wish gender specific advocacy service was developed in recognition that generic advocacy services are unable to meet the needs of many women. Women have told Wish that prior to receiving a gender specific service they have either not engaged or did not feel listened to; leading to disappointment and further frustration.

The Wish model of advocacy is pro-active and is process driven rather than outcome driven. Women tell Wish that having an advocate who spends time getting to know them, actively listening, being transparent, who is non-judgemental, empathetic and able to maintain boundaries helps them to feel cared for and safe. A number of women say that they recognise that they continually test boundaries and inform Wish that it helps them feel safe knowing that the Wish advocates will maintain boundaries. Women also inform Wish that they appreciate the fact that the advocates ‘go the extra mile’; this helps them feel cared for. The emphasis is always about empowering women and responding to their individual needs.

Frequently what women raise is not the crux of the problem, therefore spending time exploring what is raised is imperative. Many of the women are impulsive therefore it is important that they have time to talk through issues and look at what are the possible actions and the probable outcomes prior to taking an issue forward. The women report that confidentiality is important to them, but also that regular clear communication regarding the limitations of confidentiality both verbally and in writing is vital. A number of women have told us that their previous experience has been that they have been informed of the limitations of confidentiality when they first meet with an advocate, however this is not revisited. Understandably, women have ended up feeling let down in the past if the communication was not clear or they were unable to recall the information and later believe that the advocate had not maintained confidentiality.

Being mindful of ward dynamics is also important to maintain relationships with the women, therefore the Wish advocacy service ensure equity of service. Wish has worked successfully with a number of women from BME [Black and Minority Ethnic] groups. A woman from Bengal was struggling to communicate therefore Wish arranged an interpreter and developed a system of communication with thumbs up, thumbs down with pictures to ascertain which things were an issue.  The pictorial format was helpful, and the woman and Wish advocate were able to identify a number of issues. The woman wanted paan as it was part of her traditions and culture to chew on the betel leaves. The Responsible Clinician initially said this could potentially interfere with her medication but later agreed that the woman could have a small amount following meals. The women Wish work with are unique; all women have common experiences of inequality but women are not a homogeneous group.

The feedback we receive from women suggests that the gender specific advocacy service is making a difference.

It’s good to be really listened to

I have never been into a CPA [Care Programme Approach] meeting before.  I feel safe now as I know that you will support me through it

Knowing that I was seeing you each week helped me; you have been there during my bad times and good times.  I like the fact that I can speak to you even if I don’t have any issues to raise.  It’s good just to update you on what is going well for a change

I appreciate all the support and understanding

Even though I kept saying no you were determined to get me to speak to you.  I glad you did

People normally give up on me but you didn’t

Lastly I would like to say that it is a privilege working with women.

Categories
Women's Mental Health Network

Violence Against Women – what it means for mental health

Guest post by Jennifer Holly, Project Manager at AVA

Violence against women and girls takes many forms. Most commonly we talk about domestic violence, but sexual violence including female genital mutilation, forced marriage, so-called ‘honour’ based violence, stalking and harassment, trafficking, prostitution and child sexual exploitation are also woefully common experiences for women and girls. Estimates vary, but globally there is evidence that almost a third of women have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

For anyone who has worked in support services for women who have experienced abuse, the impact abuse – which encompasses physical and sexual violence but also a plethora of emotional and psychological abuse all aimed at coercing and controlling the victim – can have on a woman’s mental well-being is undeniable. Working in a refuge for several years, I personally sat with women while they cried, watched them jump as a door slammed somewhere in the house. I witnessed women dissociate and have flashbacks. I saw the scars of self-harm. I heard many women talk of wanting to end their life and know of two colleagues that have had to deal with the suicide of the women they were supporting.

Within mental health services, however, recognition of the association between experience of abuse and mental distress is emerging only very gradually. A relatively recent study of people using statutory community mental health services found that 69% and 61% of the women have a lifetime experience of domestic and sexual violence respectively. Despite such evidence, most women using mental health services are still not asked about abuse, far too many are prescribed pills to manage their distress rather than offered support around their traumatic experiences, and some will end up restrained in a psychiatric ward for expressing their distress through self-harming or attempting suicide.

These experiences of services go very much against what we know women say they need. In 2012 AVA conducted research with women affected by domestic and sexual abuse, mental ill-health and substance use problems. I asked one simple question: what do you want from services?

The first thing every single woman said was to be treated like a human being. To be treated with respect and as though they matter.

Secondly, they voiced a desire to have some level of control and choice over what happens in their lives. If we understand experiencing violence and abuse as a form of trauma, and understand trauma to be “an inescapably stressful event that overwhelms our coping strategies” (to quote Bessel Van Kolk, a renowned psychiatrist specialising in trauma), that leaves us feeling powerless and helpless, then any intervention that empowers and enables women to support themselves is on the right track.

Their third request was a call for support to be safe. Safe from others who want to harm them, but also safe inside themselves, by which they meant being supported to manage the emotional distress and turmoil they experience.

More recently we published a literature review about meeting the needs of women affected by multiple difficulties in their lives. This review found that the essence of a good service for women is one that is gender-sensitive and is trauma-informed. This means:

  • Understanding women’s experiences and the social context of their lives
  • Acknowledging adaptation and resilience rather than seeing symptoms and pathology (Judith Herman’s book Trauma and Recovery is a very good introduction to this topic)
  • Understanding how trauma impacts on people – including how it affects the way the brain works – and leaves them to live ‘traumatised and traumatising lives” (again, quoting Bessel van der Kolk. His book The Body Keeps Score is fascinating and so informative)
  • Building trust through consistent relationships
  • Offering women a physically safe space
  • Prioritising dignity, respect and acceptance
  • Offering choice and control
  • Working with women to build strengths

This is stuff we know. It is nothing new.

But it is important to remember. And it is important to reflect on each point. In busy lives with high caseloads and ever increasing frustration with the systems that seem to let us as workers down, do we all always provide an entirely gender-responsive and trauma-informed response to women? Wherever you are reading this from today, take a few minutes to really reflect on that question.

Finally, individual practitioners are not solely responsible for improving how violence, abuse and women’s experiencing of mental distress are addressed. Responsibility lies also with the organisations that deliver services, with those that design and commission services. Services need to be designed to support staff to do the best job they possibly can, with sufficient resources that make professionals and the women they work with feel valued.

Categories
Women's Mental Health Network

What key issues did our focus groups identify?

To support the development of the Women’s Mental Health Network, Wish has held 5 focus groups with 30 women from diverse backgrounds and they have identified the following 10 areas that are key campaigning issues:

Women meeting in cafe

1. Prison

There are very few women in prison who pose any risk to society. The majority of female prisoners are victims of serious trauma. These women should not be locked up in facilities designed to silence and disempower them; they should be supported and rehabilitated in a system that responds to women’s specific needs.

2. Police

Cuts to psychiatric services mean that police officers increasingly end up dealing with mental health crises. This tends to involve unnecessary physical restraint, which is particularly traumatic for vulnerable women for whom it is likely to trigger flashbacks of past abuse.

3. Hospitals

Hospitals should be places of safety and support for anyone in distress, but women often feel unsafe, ignored and judged on mental health wards and when waiting in A&E.

4. Domestic Violence

Domestic violence affects an enormous number of women, yet many victims feel that services and professionals don’t take it seriously. Reporting domestic violence is extremely difficult and often dangerous; not taking a woman’s story seriously could put her life at risk.

5. PTSD and Complex Needs

Women with PTSD and complex needs are being failed by the current psychiatric system, which focuses on ascribing labels and prescribing medication rather than giving women therapy that would take their life experience and past trauma into account.

6. Housing

There are not enough safe women’s only housing options, which means that victims of domestic violence struggle to find a home where they feel secure and are not afraid.

7. Children

The social services needlessly remove children from their mothers every day. They often take a pessimistic approach to mental health conditions, disregarding the possibility of recovery, and underestimating the lifelong harm of separating a child and a mother.

8. Counselling, Advocacy and Support

It is very difficult for anyone to access any form of talking therapy through the NHS at the moment. It is particularly difficult for women to access gender-specific, women-only services where they feel safe, comfortable, and able to talk openly about their experiences.

9. Staff Attitudes and Behaviour

Across the system staff lack understanding of and respect for women’s distress. Women feel that they are not listened to, not treated equally to men, and sometimes not even treated as people.

10. Male Staff and Support Workers

In prisons and hospitals male staff can be thuggish, intimidating and inappropriate towards women. This is entirely unacceptable and totally undermines women’s chances of rehabilitation and recovery.

Next, we will invite 5000 women to choose the top 3 issues from these 10, and the 3 that they choose will be the first things that we campaign to change. Over the next few months, we will be using this blog to keep you updated on the WMHN so please follow, share and support our progress.