New NIHR Funded Project Launches - Keeping Mothers in Mind
14th November 2023
A new study, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research under its Research for Patient Benefit Programme, brings together mothers, practice pioneers, and Lancaster academics to address serious shortfalls in mental health provision for women in care proceedings.
For more than a decade, researchers at the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research at Lancaster University have had the privilege of listening to mothers involved in care proceedings in the UK, including mothers with repeat experiences of the family justice system. Mothers have shared a deep sense of frustration and distress that they are unable to access services to improve their mental health – even when concerns about their mental health result in care proceedings. The mothers we have interviewed have all been at risk of, or had children removed from their care.
The new study takes place in the context of:
- A growing national and international consensus that more needs to be done to ensure that mothers seeking help with mental health difficulties should not lose children from their care – because services are unavailable or are not sufficiently tailored to meet presenting needs.
- An urgent need to surface and summarise new developments in mental health provision for women at risk of or involved with care proceedings. Across the range of formal and informal services, alternative approaches to meeting mental health need are emerging, which are far more in sync with women’s needs. However, there has been insufficient attention given to capturing national and international developments and summarising evaluative evidence.
The team will be co-led by Dr Lisa Morriss and Professor Karen Broadhurst at Lancaster University, in collaboration with: Siobhan Beckwith with Mothers from the Common Threads Collective, based at WomenCentre, and the New Beginnings Foundation. Team members also include Dr Bachar Alrouh and Claire Mason.
In brief, the study will comprise the following:
- A review of the national and international literature on mental health and care proceedings.
- A summary and synthesis of developments in mental health provision for women in, at risk of care proceedings, including recurrent care proceedings.
- Secondary analysis of a large corpus of qualitative data collected in two waves by the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research.
This collaborative 18-month project will deliver vital insights about mothers’ experience of mental health, grounded in systematic review of the national and international research evidence as well as practice developments, and women’s own accounts of their experience.
The study is framed through an empirically grounded socio-political lens, which places issues of gender, class, and economic hardship at the heart of the analysis. Our standpoint is that explanations of mental health are incomplete, without sufficient attention to gender inequality, including the disproportionate burden of caring and women’s exposure to violence.
Further details of the project can be found here
For direct information, please contact: Dr Lisa Morriss or Professor Karen Broadhurst.