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Women’s Mental Health Taskforce Report Published

The Women’s Mental Health Taskforce – co-chaired by Jackie Doyle-Price, Minister for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention, and Katharine Sacks-Jones, Chief Executive of Agenda, – has today set out its key principles for gender and trauma-informed care in its final report.

Women are more likely to experience common mental health conditions than men, and while rates remain relatively stable in men, prevalence is increasing in women. Young women are a particularly high-risk group, with over a quarter (26%) experiencing a common mental disorder, such as anxiety or depression – almost three times more than young men (9.1%). The Taskforce was established to set out priorities for improving women’s mental health and their experiences of services. The work of the Taskforce was informed by the voices and experiences of women and the report encourages commissioners, providers and practitioners to promote best practice in their organisations while taking into account women’s individual, gender-specific needs.

Kathy Roberts, Chief Executive of Association of Mental Health Providers, commented: 

“The Association has been a member of the Taskforce since it was set up last year to tackle evidence of deteriorating mental health among women and poor outcomes experienced by those using support services, and we are pleased to have represented the voluntary and community mental health sector and ensure the Report was informed by the sector.

“As the largest provider of mental health services, the VCSE sector has a vital role in the planning and delivery of women’s mental health services and as members of the Taskforce, we have committed to developing women’s trauma-informed services which consider the principles highlighted in the Report and the experiences as shared by women with lived experience through the engagement we led as part of this work.

“The difference in women’s, in particular young women’s, experiences of mental health conditions is stark and so it is essential that services are designed and delivered to reflect this. There are mental health services that are failing to take gender into account, however, we also know that there are VCSE providers offering a range of trauma-informed, recovery services for women and have innovative examples of services being delivered, and the opportunities that exist for these services to be scaled up as part of the recommendations.

“Going forward, as the only representative organisation for VCSE mental health service providers and having been deeply involved in  the Taskforce, including all third sector and lived experience engagement, to inform the Report, we look forward to working with and supporting the Government and the newly formed Women’s Health Taskforce to ensure that women’s mental health remains at the top of the agenda, with the VCSE and women with lived experience being central to all future work.”

Jackie Doyle-Price MP, said:

“Women are more likely to experience common mental health conditions than men – this is particularly stark among young women, who are three times more likely than young men to experience a common mental disorder, such as anxiety or depression.

“Yet too often, we hear stories of women who describe feeling powerless when it comes to their mental health treatment, those who feel neglected by inadequate aftercare or, more alarmingly, those who feel at risk in inpatient services, whether that’s because of breaches in single sex wards or the fear of restraint or observations by male staff members.

“This just isn’t good enough. I’m determined that this report will take an important first step towards our aim of tackling the injustices facing women, while ensuring that no vulnerable woman slips through the net. I appeal to partners across the health, justice and social care systems to work together to drive forward our ethos and ensure that women receive the high-quality care they deserve.

“Mental health is a top priority for this Government and will be a key part of the upcoming Long-Term Plan for the NHS, which will help us drive the outcomes of this report forward.”

Read the report here.


[1] In June-July 2018, Association of Mental Health Providers worked with Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) Taskforce secretariat to commission organisations, via the Voluntary, Community, and Social Enterprise Health and Wellbeing Alliance, to engage with women with lived experience of mental health services by facilitating focus groups. The organisations commissioned to run the focus groups were: National Survivor User Network (NSUN), a partner in the Mental Health Consortium, National LGB&T Partnership, Race Equality Foundation, and Clinks. Each organisation was invited to run two focus groups in total, a few weeks apart, with a cohort of up to eight women via their networks.