Mental health 24/03/2013 at 15:35

Gender Equality And The Womens Health Programme

Gender EqualityIn order to ensure a balanced development of mental health systems that cater to both men and women equally, the Gender Equality and Women’s Mental Health Programme was established in 2004 by the NIMHE. The central goal of this programme is to ensure that the mental health systems that are available are capable of delivering appropriate gender sensitive services with a focus most particularly on women.

Gender inequality has long been present in many medical fields and mental health is no different. There are basic and fundamental differences between the sexes and it is crucial that both genders are treated within a higher awareness model. The publication of two important reports, “Women’s Mental Health: Into the Mainstream” in 2002 and its companion report “Maintreaming Gender and Women’s Mental Health: Implementation Guidance” in 2003, addressed the needs of women and set out the necessary steps to improve services to provide women with individualized care.

Recommendations began with the principle that gender-awareness is a critical factor to equal care and as such this awareness needs to be integrated into all of the planning, developing, commissioning, delivering and evaluation of mental health services.

An awareness of the uniquely different mental health needs of women, transgender individuals and men is now advancing, however, it has been hindered in the past by the shortage of sufficient data. Gender is a key variable that greatly affects service outcomes, however, this fact has not always been recognized. Ongoing research, monitoring and evaluation of the differences in genders within the mental health field is critical at this juncture.

In order to tackle the problem of gender inequality in mental health services, a strong partnership between the statutory and voluntary sector is needed, along with stronger leadership at the senior level, the implementation of stronger mechanisms for accountability and of course, the involvement of more women and transgenders who are experiencing mental health challenges.

The Public Sector Gender Duty and the Equality bill is of major importance when it comes to mainstreaming the mental health agenda for women. The assessments made on the impact of gender within the practice of mental health services will provide the opportunity to increase and influence the implementation of gender-sensitive and gender-specific services for both men and women. It will also be highly beneficial for those who identify themselves as transgender.

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