EXTERNALLY FUNDED RESEARCH PROJECTS
Reducing gendered harm in involuntary mental health service provision
Involuntary mental health treatment is often traumatising, with women reporting additional gendered dimensions of harm, including sexual harassment and assault, as well as experiences of treatment that ignore the impacts of gendered violence on women's lives or that mirror the power dynamics of gendered violence. Using an action research framework that draws upon the voices of women with lived experiences, their families and loved ones, and professionals, this study aims to contribute to improved strategies for responding to women's mental distress. Expected outcomes include co-designed resources to support gender-sensitive practices in mental healthcare, and co-produced collective responses that offer creative and hopeful alternatives to coercive and biomedically focused understandings of women's distress.
This project aims to develop a comprehensive analysis of the experiences and perspectives of women who have received involuntary mental health treatment, their families and loved ones, and workers within these settings; to produce co-designed resources that inform the development of gender-sensitive responses to women experiencing mental distress; and to make space for collective responses from women with lived experiences of acute psychiatric services.
In the first year of the project, in-depth interviewing and arts-based qualitative methods are being used to produce rich, nuanced, and detailed understandings of women's experiences of involuntary mental health treatment, and the perspectives of their families and loved ones, and workers. Interviews with women with first-hand experiences are being co-conducted with a research assistant who identifies as a survivor of gendered harms suffered during involuntary treatment.
Following this, the study will employ action research methods to support the project's co-design aims, including the development of strategies to support gender-sensitive mental health practices. Participatory action research methods will be used to make space for women's collective actions in co-constructing creative and hopeful alternatives to coercive and biomedically focused mental health responses.