Room for improvement in helping domestic violence survivors get the mental health care they need

A new study has identified a number of obstacles that stop domestic violence survivors from receiving mental health care–even when they have access to services. Societal stigmas, shame, privacy concerns, health care costs and a lack of information have all played a role in preventing women from receiving the care they need to help overcome the psychological impact of abuse.

Researcher Mansoo Yu, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Missouri, and his colleagues assessed the rates of PTSD, depression and substance abuse among 50 abused women, as well as the types of services the women used. They found that the women regularly visited their primary care physicians, but the majority did not use mental health services.

In a press release from the University of Missouri, Yu said:

“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. Health providers play a critical role in intervening in the women’s lives and potentially helping them end the abuse.” 

The study, “Use of Mental Health Services by Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence,” appeared in Social Work in Mental Health and also included researchers from Washington University and the University of Louisville.