By On June 13th, 2013

Many Women Don’t Use Mental Health Services After Abuse

Mansoo Yu - University of Missouri

Mansoo Yu

According to a recent study, survivors of intimate partner violence and abuse aren’t getting the mental health services they need. However, the researchers also say family physicians are in the position to make the changes necessary to get victims the proper treatment they deserve.

“More than half of the women participating in our study suffered from depression, PTSD, or both illnesses,” Mansoo Yu, assistant professor of social work at University of Missouri told Futurity.org.

“However, most of the survivors had not used mental health services in the past year, even though they reported having access to the services. Social stigmas, shame, privacy concerns, health care costs, and lack of information may prevent survivors from getting the help they need.”

Yu and colleagues studied the rates of PTSD, depression, and substance abuse among 50 female intimate partner violence survivors and the types of services the women utilized. The majority of the participants had not accessed any sort of mental health services, but many did report regularly seeing their primary care physicians about their concerns.

“Medical professionals are uniquely positioned to screen for mental health problems, such as PTSD, depression, and substance abuse disorders among IPV survivors and make appropriate referrals to other agencies or providers for treatment,” Yu says. “Health providers play a critical role in intervening in the women’s lives and potentially helping them end the abuse.”

The study, published in Social Work in Mental Health, also found that the victims had trouble accessing many other types of services for people in their position such as housing, legal services, crisis lines, and medical care.

“The overall percentage of service utilization is really low, but once survivors use some type of service, they believe the service to be helpful,” Yu says. “Abuse causes harm, and service providers and health professionals should strive to end abuse and the mental suffering that lingers in its wake by connecting survivors with services.”

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