Report suggests abuse threat to women in mixed-sex wards

A study published in the December issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests that women in mixed-sex psychiatric wards are at high risk of being assaulted.

During the study, information was collected from 16 medium secure units (11 mixed and 5 single-sex units) in Wales and England. All the women from mixed-sex wards who took part said that they had been physically assaulted or threatened, or that they knew other patients who had.

However, despite adverse experiences, most of the women on the mixed-sex wards said they would prefer to be with male patients, rather than in a female-only ward. A number of women on the single-sex units felt that the presence of more men (patients and staff) would increase their sense of safety.

Liz Griffiths-Hughes, Empowerment Coordinator at Welsh mental health charity Hafal, stated: “The report raises a number of issues and concerns. Patients in psychiatric wards must feel safe in their environment at a time when they are inevitably very vulnerable. This study provides insights into the experiences of female patients that should now be used to inform government policy.”