Authors: Karen Dixon, Ellie Fossey, Melissa Petrakis
Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference
Subject: Women’s need for safety when recovering from mental health issues: A scoping review investigating the links between safety and recovery.
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Karen Dixon is a Lecturer at Monash University, Occupational Therapist and support worker at Ermha in the Women's Prevention and Recovery Care Service in Springvale Melbourne.
Objectives: Feeling safe and recovery from mental health issues are concepts which seem to be interrelated. This is a scoping review of the existing literature to identify current knowledge and knowledge gaps regarding women’s experiences of mental health services. In particular, studies that explored women’s feelings of safety were sought.
Results: This scoping review identified 12 studies.
Findings across the studies indicated that a sense of feeling safe is crucial to the process of recovery for women with mental health issues. The results showed that there is little existing literature on women's safety when accessing mental health services.
Conclusion: This scoping review investigated the link between recovery and a sense of safety for women with mental health issues, who are consumers of mental health programs. Some progress appears to have been made in offering programs that provide a sense of safety for women. Both safety from assault or harassment and finding safety in supportive connections with others were found to be important. A deeper and greater awareness of gender sensitivity in designing and building mental health programs would have the potential to improve the quality of mental health services for women and may advance theory on recovery oriented practice.
Learning Objective 1: Following this presentation, the audience will have a knowledge of the existing literature on women's mental health programs and in particular how a sense of safety and recovery are interrelated and addressed in this literature.
Learning Objective 2: How is this topic relevant to mental health services and mental health issues? More knowledge is required on how to deliver safe and supportive mental health programs for women. A review of the existing literature is essential before generating further knowledge through research projects.
Clarke, H. (2007). Nowhere to be safe: Women’s experiences of mixed-sex psychiatric wards. . Network VWaMH (ed) Victorian Women and Mental Health Network, 4
Kulkarni, J., Gavrilidis, E., Lee, S., Van Rheenen, T. E., Grigg, J., Hayes, E., . . . Stafrace, S. (2014). Establishing female-only areas in psychiatry wards to improve safety and quality of care for women. Australasian Psychiatry, 22(6), 551-556. doi:10.1177/1039856214556322
In response to concerns that not enough was being done to protect women's safety whilst recovering from mental health issues, Victoria's first women-only Prevention and Recovery Care (PARC) service was begun in February 2014. The presenters will deliver feedback from the women who accessed the service over the past five years to inform the further development of the program and other future service provision. Data revealed striking levels of appreciation from the residents for being in a women-only PARC and overwhelmingly high satisfaction with their stay at Springvale PARC. The themes that consistently emerged from the data were around feeling comfortable, safe and relaxed in a women-only environment. The women reported that this led to more honest and in-depth discussions around their needs and contributed to positive peer support experiences during recovery.
Learning Objective 1: The audience will learn about the women's experiences of a women only mental health program and the significance of gender specific programs.
Learning Objective 2: This is relevant as not enough has been done to ensure women are safe from harrassment and assault when accessing mental health services, particularly residential or inpatient.
Clarke, H. (2007). Nowhere to be safe: Women’s experiences of mixed-sex psychiatric wards. . Network VWaMH (ed) Victorian Women and Mental Health Network, 4.
Kulkarni, J., Gavrilidis, E., Lee, S., Van Rheenen, T. E., Grigg, J., Hayes, E., . . . Stafrace, S. (2014). Establishing female-only areas in psychiatry wards to improve safety and quality of care for women. Australasian Psychiatry, 22(6), 551-556. doi:10.1177/103985621455632