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Being trauma-informed can better help women’s mental health

Tuesday 30th April 2019
A new resource has been published to give public services knowledge about the impact of trauma, enabling them to better support women’s mental health.
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Society’s understanding of trauma, and the effects it can have over a survivor’s lifetime, has grown massively over the years. However, many of the institutions that exist in the UK are unaware of the impact that trauma has, and how they can inadvertently be harming the vulnerable people - particularly women - they are trying to help.

It is for this reason that a new resource has been published by the Centre for Mental Health and the Mental Health Foundation. It is hoped that ‘Engaging with complexity: Providing effective trauma-informed care for women’ will give public services the knowledge they need to provide care for women that does not help to perpetuate trauma.

The main principle behind trauma-informed care is recognising how everyone’s experience is different. To deal with this, services have to listen to and value the stories that vulnerable women tell them. To help with this, it is recommended they create safe spaces in which to share and try to show understanding of what people have been through.

Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sarah Hughes said: “Trauma is inseparably bound up with systems of power and oppression. For women who have experienced trauma in their lives, public services can unwittingly make things worse if they create situations that bring back the trauma or make them feel unsafe.”

These situations are very rarely deliberate, but instead come about as a result of lack of resources or low staff morale. However, other barriers include how difficult it can be to change systems and practices that have been in place for a long time, as well as a general resistance to learning more about trauma.

That said, the benefits to doing so can be great. By engaging with trauma-informed care, public services can help to reduce and prevent some of the harm that trauma can cause long after the fact, and keep vulnerable people safe from further mental health issues.

Written by Angela Newbury

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