Agenda item

Women and Disadvantage: Mental Health


Consideration was given to a report which provided the Committee with a follow up on the recommendations in the report submitted to the Committee in October 2021 which sought to explore a number of issues pertaining to women’s disadvantages which included access to mental health services.


It was noted that, amongst the issues identified, women’s access to mental health services was regarded as an area of priority and focus, based upon concerns about the impact of the pandemic on mental health, and research in relation to barriers to women’s economic empowerment carried out in Oldham by Oxfam and Inspire Women (2019). It had been agreed at the previous meeting that research would be undertaken on the following:

·         the collation, analysis and interpretation of any existing data and intelligence.

·         the engagement of women with lived experience in the development of this evidence base and

·         identification of any future work that may be needed in respond to any issues raised.


The Committee was advised that demand for mental health services had increased during the pandemic and waiting times for people needing to access help had increased. It was felt that this was in part because people couldn’t access the same level of support through their GP’s during the lockdown. There was no evidence of a gender-bias in this demand. Service provision on the whole not gender specific but responsive to the evidence of need and demand, guided by the principles of person-centred care. In relation to mental health service commissioning, gender–specific service provision for

women were focused on perinatal and maternity services.


Within commissioned services, such as TOG mind and Health Minds, women could access women only professional and peer-to-peer support. This was particularly important in providing culturally appropriate and sensitive support for women; supporting women who are experiencing domestic abuse or women who were sex-workers. Evidence also shown that women were more likely to access mental health support through targeted family support and parental wellbeing programmes. Similarly, more women than men (approximately 60/40% split) accessed psychological care in relation to early-stage dementia.


Members were advised that a round-table discussion that would focus on the Council’s role in supporting good mental health in the borough was currently being considered by Cllr Chauhan, and Dr Keith Jeffery, Clinical Director for Mental Health for NHS Oldham CCG, mental health care. Whilst there

were no details as yet, it was understood that the intention was to raise the profile of services to support mental health and wellbeing in Oldham, discuss work currently being undertaken and future opportunities to improve mental health and wellbeing in the borough.


Members asked for and received clarification on the following:

·         The effect of Covid-19 on women’s mental health. It was noted that research did point to women suffering more during the pandemic. Work was being done with Inspire Women to identify and tackle the impact of Covid-19 on Mental Health.

·         The availability of Health Navigators. It was explained that not everything could be helped with medication. The Mind service had recently opened on Union Street and work was being done with Early Help for non-medication routes.

·         Digital exclusion. Members felt that not everyone could navigate themselves online and with more services moving to online only left a huge cohort behind. It was agreed that services could not be digital only and a request for additional funding for older adults had been requested. There was also a 24-hour phone helpline available for users to speak to a mental health professional.


RESOLVED that the report be noted.


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