Aims and objectives

Immediate objectives

1.  Act as a think tank and collate evidence

The Network will collect, collate and analyse quantitative and qualitative data, including women’s testimonies, and effect change through publishing findings that include this data as evidence. The Network will also act as a means of communicating joint messages for all the organisations involved. With time, the Network could become the “go-to” place for information and statistics on women’s mental health and on gender-specific services. The Network could provide expertise and training based on the models and best practice developed by Wish and other members, ensuring long-term sustainability for the project.

2.  Act as a platform for member organisations and individual members

The Network will:

  • Bring together organisations working in women’s mental health and related areas, including criminal justice, to achieve more through joint campaigning
  • Function as a platform for members to voice opinions and concerns about women’s mental health not just as individual organisations but as a strong united body
  • Represent organisations from across the sector, who work with different groups of service users, ensuring the Network speaks for an inclusive and diverse group of women
  • Help organisations to increase the impact of their work and their campaigns
  • Bring together relevant women- focused work and campaigns from across a range of sectors

3.  Launch campaigns for better, gender-specific services

The Network will create a strong and influential campaign platform for women’s mental health. The Network aims to reach stakeholders who can help create a better environment and offer support for women who use services.  The Network will launch campaigns that would address the lack of gender-awareness in certain services.  These campaigns will be evidence-based, on the experience of women who use services, across sectors.  The campaigns will be piloted and evaluated at a local level, and disseminated nationally, supported by NICE accreditation.

Overall Objectives

1.  Give a voice to women who are service users

The Network will be a user-led forum, whose concerns and viewpoints reach influencers and decision makers, as well as practitioners across the Network’s core sectors. The Network will promote a clear message: the Network is to highlight the concerns and barriers women face directly on the ground.

2.  Promote the benefits of women-only services

As experts in women-only services and mental health, the Network will promote approaches known to be effective for women, based on what women say works for them from the evidence collected. The Network will drive forward wider implementation of methods that genuinely improve outcomes for individual women, for society overall, and reduce reoffending. These are primarily wrap-around, inclusive, quality gender-specific services that help join up the fragmented journeys female service users are forced to take.

3.  Highlight the complexities of women’s mental health

We would like to ensure that there is understanding that some groups of women will experience poorer levels of mental health because of racism, sexism, homelessness, past abuse and trauma, substance use, offending, discrimination and disadvantage in society; and recognise the impact of, and link between, mental health and violence against women and girls.

4.  Ensure policies are implemented

The majority of policies that ensure good treatment and support for women with mental health needs and for women in prison or secure hospitals are already in place. A key aim of the Network is therefore to ensure that these policies are implemented thoroughly across the criminal justice and health sectors and in women’s services, and to remind professional bodies/service providers of relevant legislation and guidance eg NICE. The Network will seek accreditation from NICE so they can support the findings to be rolled out nationally.

Proposed Outcomes

Give a voice to service users: The Network will be a user-led forum presenting concerns and barriers women experience on the ground to influencers, decision makers and practitioners.

Promote the benefits of women-only services: Promoting approaches known to be effective, based on what women say works for them, to improve outcomes for individual women and society overall, and reduce reoffending.

Highlight the complexities of women’s mental health: Increase understanding that women can experience poorer levels of mental health because of racism, sexism, homelessness, past abuse and trauma, domestic violence, substance use, offending, discrimination and disadvantage.

Ensure policies are implemented: The majority of policies to ensure gender-specific treatment for the women we work with are in place. A key aim of the Network is to ensure implementation across the criminal justice, health, other service sectors, and to remind professional bodies/service providers of legislation/ guidance.