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Differences in the way women and men experience mental ill health, and their practical implications for the commissioning and provision of mental health services for women, are highlighted in a new taskforce report to which Dr Karen Newbigging, Senior Lecturer in Healthcare Policy and Management at HSMC, contributed:

“We are seeing a rise in poor mental health for young women and women are two to three times likely to experience common mental health problems, particularly anxiety and depression. This reflects the social realities of their lives: women are much more likely than men to be survivors of abuse and domestic violence, to be single parents and to live on a lower income. Traditionally mental health services have overlooked this. So, I was pleased to be part of the National Taskforce on Women’s Mental health, co-chaired by the Rt Hon Jackie Doyle-Price, MP, to identify the strategic priorities and the practical steps that can be taken to ensure that all women are able to access the support they need. My hope is that the identified priorities will now be implemented to make a tangible difference and promote mental health and wellbeing for women.”

The Women's Mental Health Taskforce was set up in early 2017 in response to evidence indicating a significant rise in mental ill health amongst women, and particulary young women. It draws on women’s own lived experience of mental ill-health heard through a series of focus groups, and it encourages commissioners, providers and practitioners to promote best practice in their organisations while taking into account women’s individual, gender-specific needs.

The full report is available from the Department of Health and Social Care website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-womens-mental-health-taskforce-report

Karen also co-wrote a chapter in a recent BMA series on unmet needs in women's health, published earlier this month. Here she explains why policies, services and practice need to be gender informed, co-designed by women and underpinned by clear leadership and accountability. This paper can be found on the BMA website: https://www.bma.org.uk/collective-voice/policy-and-research/public-and-population-health/womens-health