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“Policymakers need a kick up the butt. They need to do something, and they need to do it fast otherwise there are going to be so many more disadvantaged women; more suicides, homelessness, child removal. It needs acting on and it needs acting on fast.”
Nici, member of Agenda Alliance’s Women’s Advisory Network

Mental health services across England are failing women by not asking about their experiences of domestic abuse, according to new data in a report published today by Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk.

The findings – based on results from Freedom of Information requests – show that more than a third (15) of NHS mental health trusts that responded (42 of 58) have no policy on ‘routine enquiry’ about domestic violence and abuse – in spite of The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.[1]

The report says that mental health services should be asking about domestic abuse in recognition of the high rates of violence and abuse experienced by people who access them. This is especially true for women; 38 per cent of women who have a mental health problem have experienced domestic abuse.[2]

The evidence in the report points to a postcode lottery in the support mental health services are providing to survivors. One trust said they asked just three per cent of patients about domestic abuse – when guidance says they should be asking everyone.

Agenda’s report, Ask and Take Action: Why public services must ask about domestic abuse, is supported by a group of charities, practitioners and other leading experts, and argues that while some health services are already required to ask about domestic abuse, this should be happening in a much wider range of public services if we are to truly protect women and offer appropriate support.

Some 1.3 million women experienced domestic abuse last year in England and Wales alone.[3] Research shows eighty five per cent of survivors sought help five times on average in the year before they got effective support, four out of five victims never call the police, but many will visit their GP as a result of the abuse they’re experiencing.[4] All public services could play a crucial role in recognising and responding to signs of abuse.

A recent National Commission of leading experts warned of the potentially devastating consequences for women who don’t get the support they need from public services because the signs of abuse are not picked up by professionals.[5] Without support, many go on to develop mental health problems or use drugs and alcohol to cope.

Agenda is calling for the Government to amend the Domestic Abuse Bill to put a duty on all public authorities to ensure staff across the public sector are making trained enquiries into domestic abuse.

[1] The National Institute for Health and Care and Excellence

[2]   Agenda (2016) Hidden Hurt. Available here:

[3] ONS (2018) Domestic abuse in England and Wales: year ending March 2018

[4] SafeLives (2016) A Cry for Health:

[5] National Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence and Multiple Disadvantage (2019):

The provision of mental health services for young people at risk of or engaged with offending behaviour is inadequate, according to a report released today.


A partnership between the Transition to Adulthood Alliance and Young Minds, Same Old… is a cross-sectional qualitative research project carried out by City University London in three T2A projects in London, West Mercia and Birmingham. Interviews were carried out with young people as well as T2A, CAMHS and AMHS staff and commissioners.


The report reveals that little has changed over the last 20 years; young people within the criminal justice system still receive highly inadequate mental health care. Both young people and the professionals working with them highlighted distinct problems with mental health provisions which included waiting lists being too long, which results in many young people self medicating, are gaps in service provision between young people’s and adult mental health services and support centred around medication.


Same Old… outlines eight recommendations to ensure that young people offender with mental health needs get the support and intervention they require. Amongst these suggestions is targeted commissioning for at risk 16-19 year old, east access to services and information, and training for all professional working with children and young people at risk of offending.


Read the full report here.