The current status of gender-sensitive mental health services for women—findings from a global survey of experts
Integrating gender in all aspects of health services is important and mental health is no exception. Despite several recommendations regarding the need for gender-sensitive mental health services, the actual availability of these is not clear, both in high and low-income countries. We sought to understand what aspects of gender-sensitive mental health care were considered a priority by global experts in women’s mental health and how satisfied they were with the current availability of these services in their own place of work. A survey with 43 items under 7 domains of gender-sensitive mental health care for women was sent to 150 experts in women’s mental health across the world, of whom 73 responded. Rating on each item was from 0 to 5. While majority of the experts rated most of the items as being very important (median score of 4 and above), some areas that were considered most important included training of mental health professionals in gender sensitivity, having private spaces for examination, using a life course approach to service planning and delivery, and assisting women who find it difficult to navigate the system and mother-baby units. However, satisfaction rates with available services were quite low overall and much lower among experts in low-income countries compared with those from high-income countries. Even in high-income countries, only 6 of the top 20 items were scored as satisfactory by at least 50% of experts. This expert survey method to arrive at consensus on top priorities for improving delivery of gender-sensitive mental health care indicates that at least 72% of the items provided in the survey were considered extremely important. Poor satisfaction of experts in both high- and low-income countries with availability of gender-sensitive services indicates the need for local and global strategic action and multilevel stakeholder engagement.
KeywordsGender sensitive Women Sex Mental health Services Psychiatry
Compliance with ethical standards
All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee (Institutional Ethics Committee, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore, India, Ref no.: NIMHANS/EC/BEH SC/13/2018) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Abel KM, Newbigging K (2018) Addressing unmet needs in women’s mental health. Tavistock square, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Barnes M, Davis A, Guru S, et al (2002) Women-only and women sensitive mental health services: a summary report. University of Birmingam Google Scholar
- Brady TM, Ashley OS (2005) Women in substance abuse treatment: results from the alcohol and drug services study (ADSS). Rockville, MDGoogle Scholar
- Cunningham CT, Quan H, Hemmelgarn B, Noseworthy T, Beck CA, Dixon E, Samuel S, Ghali WA, Sykes LL, Jetté N (2015) Exploring physician specialist response rates to web-based surveys. BMC Med Res Methodol 15:32Google Scholar
- Department of Health (2002) Women’s mental health: into the mainstream. London, UKGoogle Scholar
- Fillmore K, Golding J, Leino E, Motoyoshi M (1997) Patterns and trends in women’s and men’s drinking. In: R. W. Wilsnack & S. C. Wilsnack (eds) Gender and alcohol: Individual and social perspectives. Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies, Piscataway, NJ, pp 21-48Google Scholar
- Fisher J, de Mello MC, Takashi I (2009) Mental health aspects of pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. In: Chandra PS, Herrman H, Fisher J et al (eds) Contemporary topics in women’s mental health: global perspectives in a changing society. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, West Sussex, UK, pp 197–213Google Scholar
- Green CA (2006) Gender and use of substance abuse treatment services. Alcohol Res Health 29:55–62Google Scholar
- Morrow M, Columbia B (2002) Violence and trauma in the lives of women with serious mental illness current practices in service provision in British Columbia.Vancouver, BC: BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s HealthGoogle Scholar
- Newbigging K, Abel K (2006) Supporting women into the mainstream : commissioning women-only community day services. Department of Health, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Ruijne RE, Kamperman AM, Trevillion K, Garofalo C, Jongejan FE, Bogaerts S, Howard LM, Mulder NL (2019) Mental health professionals’ knowledge, skills and attitudes on domestic violence and abuse in the Netherlands: cross-sectional study. BJPsych Open 5:e29Google Scholar
- The Women’s Health Council (2007) A guide to creating gender-sensitive health services. Dublin, IrelandGoogle Scholar
- Victorian Women and Mental Health Network (2009) Increasing safety and gender sensitivity in mixed sex psychiatric units. Elsternwick, VICGoogle Scholar
- Women’s Centre for Health Matters (2009) WCHM position paper on gender sensitive mental health service delivery. Canberra, ACTGoogle Scholar
- World Health Organization (2002) Gender and mental health. Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
- World Health Organization (2007) Gender disparities in mental health. Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
- World Health Organization (2013) Increasing access to health care services in Afghanistan with gender-sensitive health service delivery. WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, Cairo, EgyptGoogle Scholar