Review:

Aitken, G., 2003. Review:. Reformulation, Spring, p.30.


Review

"Women's Mental Health: Into the Mainstream" Strategic Development of Mental Health Care for Women

Gill Aitken

Did you know? That after delays in its production (due out in 2000, then 2001) October 2002 saw the Women's strategy out for final consultation (period ended 31 December 2002). For the first time, there is government acknowledgement that women's context, presentation and character of mental health needs are different to men's, with implications for care and treatment needs. Social issues, links between poverty, abuse, violence and the impact of caring and mothering on women's mental health are identified.

The document is divided into 12 main sections and covers broad areas including understanding, models of care, service delivery and design, specialist services and therapeutic approaches. Being aware of, and reading, the strategy may be useful for stimulating CAT practitioners to start thinking about how gender sensitive or aware we are. This can be at the level of the services in which we work, the theoretical underpinnings and models of CAT which we apply in our therapy work, how we construct women's experiences (and coping strategies), understanding ourselves and our clients as gendered.

Of note in the document is the absence of CAT as a potential therapy in working with women who self-injure, who have been diagnosed with having a Personality Disorder, with Dual Diagnoses, women who have difficulties with eating, and women who have contact with the criminal justice system.

Within the NSF and related Dept of Health Guidelines the importance of (women) users having access to a greater range of psychological therapies has been a recurring theme. Yet with the parallel emphasis on evidence-based therapies and the use of randomised control trials, perhaps it is of little surprise that the main therapeutic approach cited in the Women's Strategy is cognitive behavioural therapy. This again raises a couple of issues: does CAT need to enter the field of RCT's, or does the validity of other research approaches and methodologies in providing evidence or indeed practice-based evidence need to be promoted?

Gill Aitken

Full Reference

Aitken, G., 2003. Review:. Reformulation, Spring, p.30.

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