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Title: Understanding women's distress within a forensic learning disability service
Author: Brennan, Ailsa Katrina
ISNI:       0000 0001 3478 5596
Awarding Body: Coventry University
Current Institution: Coventry University
Date of Award: 2006
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The Department of Health consultation 'Women's Mental Health: Into the Mainstream' (2002) presented a strong evidence base demonstrating the need for 'gender sensitive' and 'gender specific' services. A further document 'Mainstreaming Gender and Women's Mental Health' (2003) highlighted the need for consideration of the mental health needs of women within secure settings. It acknowledged that women in secure settings have often had histories of abuse and trauma and it was therefore important to ensure that their environment was 'validating' and 'safe'. It recommended that services provide an appropriate 'therapeutic context' in order to address the complexity of mental distress in women. Specific reference was made to women with 'complex mental health care needs'. This included women who selfharmed or carried out offending behaviours, women with learning disabilities and those with a borderline personality disorder. Chapter 1 reviews the literature on the medicalisation ofwomen and their distress and discusses the clinical implications of this for women who self-harm within forensic learning disability services. It recommends that clinicians are guided by how women conceptualise their self-harm and that women should not be discouraged from using biological explanations if this is meaningful to them. It stresses the importance of consulting women regarding their experiences in order to inform relevant policies and protocols. Recommendations for future research are made. Chapter 2 details the main study which explored how six women with mild learning disabilities within a secure forensic setting made sense of their self-harm, using a grounded theory methodology. A model is proposed representing how women coped with their lives on a daily basis; self-harm being integral to this. Recommendations are made for clinical practice and future research. Chapter 3 details a pilot study which explored differences between staff perceptions of female self-harm versus that carried out by males within a forensic learning disability service, using a questionnaire design. Data was analysed using thematic analysis. Results demonstrated that although there are many similarities in how staff perceive self-harm in men and women, there are also differences which may be difficult for staff to verbalise. Recommendations for future research are made. Chapter 4 offers a reflective account of the research process which may be of benefit to other psychologists and researchers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available