A mental health unit is expected to provide comprehensive treatment to all its patients with utmost care, empathy and support. However, a recent report by Agenda, an alliance of more than 70 organizations campaigning on behalf of women and girls at risk in the U.K., shows that individuals, especially women, are being treated in an environment where physical force has become routine.
According to the study, girls and women are being repeatedly restrained in the facedown position in mental health facilities. As per Agenda’s latest research on restraint, one in every five girls and women were physically restrained in mental health settings in England. As compared to 300 incidents of restraints against boys, there were nearly 2,300 incidents of facedown restraint against girls. Despite women constituting the smaller proportion of patients, there were 4,000 incidents of facedown restraint against women. The research also concluded that as compared to their male counterparts, adult women patients were also more likely to be repeatedly restrained facedown. The alliance’s research was part of its “Women in Mind” mental health campaign.
The research concluded that girls were more likely to be restrained facedown repeatedly and in adult services, more than 6 percent of women were restrained facedown over 4,000 times. The findings also showed that other forms of physical restraints were widespread and in some cases, the figure was as high as three-quarters. This was despite the fact that more than half of the women with mental health problems had experienced abuse in the past and this practice could traumatize them again, Agenda said.
According to Katharine Sacks-Jones, director of Agenda, regular and repeated restraint faced by girls and women in mental health settings is both alarming and unacceptable. As per Sacks-Jones, facedown restraint is an outdated practice and that it should only be the last resort. She said that mental health units were meant to serve as therapeutic environments and not as places where physical force becomes routine.
While being physically held down in front of others could be fearful, humiliating and re-traumatizing for women, it can also inculcate fear among other patients affecting their treatment. Being physically pulled down, often by male nurses, can result in trauma in girls and women who have faced abuse and violence at the hands of men.
In the United States too, people are being traumatized by the use of restraints. Although nurses working in a mental health ward are often faced with extremely challenging environments, it should not imply that physical restraint becomes a norm. According to the Mental Health America (MHA), restraint has no therapeutic value and frequently results in severe emotional and physical harm, and even death. The MHA has called for the abolition of the use of restraints and prohibition of the usage of sedatives and other medications as chemical restraints.
Women who experience trauma have residual anxiety that promotes emotional impairment, self-harm, suicidal ideation and other emotionally-driven impulses. At Sovereign Health, we offer our women patients the opportunity to rebuild their lives in the best way possible.
Sovereign Health’s Chandler treatment facility offers a comprehensive behavioral health treatment program called Rebuilding Our Acceptance & Resilience (ROAR) that uses a dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) for patients. This evidence-based therapy is unique as patients are continuously supported by DBT-informed care in a safe, secure and consistent treatment environment.
The Chandler facility is a female-only residential rehab that uses ROAR to offer treatment programs for drug and alcohol addiction, mental health disorders and co-occurring conditions. For more information on our treatment programs and admission process, call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-598-5661 or chat online with our representatives.
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