National Women and Mental Health Information Line
0845 3000 911(all calls charged at the local rate)
This new service was set up over eighteen months ago by Threshold Women's Mental Health Initiative. Threshold has been providing mental health services to women on low incomes throughout East Sussex for the past twelve years. This work includes campaigning to get women's mental health needs addressed, community drop-in sessions, a one-to-one counselling service and group therapy provided by qualified counsellors and therapists, support groups, an annual conference and a training programme for workers in the field of women's mental health.
The main areas of help provided by the National Information Line are:
To give you an idea of the range of enquiries concerning women's mental health that we have dealt with, here are some of the requests for information that we have responded to:
We have written a series of 22 factsheets on different aspects of women's mental health that are free to users and we have built up an extensive library of relevant information.
The InfoLine is informed by a feminist approach to women's mental health - meaning that we look at the social inequalities that impact upon women's lives as well as their mental health 'history'.
We know now that poverty, poor education, unemployment and social isolation are all major risk factors for mental ill health - what remains less acknowledged is that women are more likely to experience the above states of inequality.
We also know that many women who use mental health services (including the majority of those in psychiatric hospital ) have experienced sexual and/or physical abuse . However, many of the women who call the InfoLine who have had previous experience of mental health services tell us that the reasons for their distress were not explored. Perhaps this is because some women relate a life story that is little short of horrific, where, as a consequence, they have experienced mental health difficulties of an extremely chronic and enduring nature. Whatever the reason, to choose not to explore the reasons for someone's distress can surely only serve to exacerbate their distress.
The fundamental tenet of the InfoLine is that information is power and we hope to go on empowering women by providing relevant, up-to-date information written in accessible language. With users of mental health services reporting that "there is not enough information about support. No one tells the patient about MIND and other forms of help. There is no information about the nature of your illness" the need for accessible information services remains evident.
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