Tag Archives: mental health

When needs arise, how training can develop better practice – an evaluation

“Domestic violence is a serious health issue which affects one in four women in their lifetimes. If either the victim or the abuser (or both) have mental health difficulties and/ or substance misuse problems, it can both affect the nature of the abuse and throw up additional barriers to victims seeking help.”
Domestic violence, mental health and substance misuse – shared issues, integrated solutions’ – Analysis Report of Pre-  and Post-Training Questionnaires and Training Evaluation Forms, Maria Harvey, 2010

The women’s domestic violence refuge movement has seen many changes since its inception in the 1960s, from ad hoc safe houses, sometimes in squats, set up by survivors and women’s rights activists to highly professional businesses conforming to quality standards and run by specially trained and experienced staff and volunteers.

The term ‘domestic violence’ covers a lot of ground: the abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, financial; support can involve finances, housing, children safeguarding and child protection, security measures and immigration status, as well as emotional support, building resilience and self-esteem. This makes refuge work highly specialised and complex.

Picture1The situation can be complicated further if the woman in question has mental health difficulties, drug and alcohol problems – or possibly all three – as well as experiencing domestic violence. Refuge providers have to consider whether or not they have the resources to offer the additional support required; they also need to take into account the safety and well-being of their existing refuge residents, including children.

In 2009, Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid (BSWA) and Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust started work together on a project to help raise awareness of the issues of complex needs, working with the Birmingham Domestic Violence Forum and specialist drug & alcohol agencies Aquarius, SIFA Fireside and Birmingham Drug & Alcohol Action Team. Part of the project was to develop three specialist training courses:

  • Domestic Violence Awareness Training for Mental Health Practitioners
  • Domestic Violence Awareness Training for Drug & Alcohol Practitioners
  • Mental Health Training for Domestic Violence Practitioners

Picture2

The main aim of the training was to raise awareness of domestic violence, mental health and substance misuse, to examine how these factors are interlinked in some women’s experiences and to consider how best to support women in these circumstances.

I worked with the project’s steering group to look at how to measure the baseline of skills and experiences each practitioner group had, as well as the attitudes they held towards subjects outside their sphere of expertise, and how this changed after the training, via a questionnaire that was administered before and after. I also analysed the results of the standard training evaluation form that is given to attendees of Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid training courses, suitably adapted where necessary to these courses.

In June 2010 I wrote: ‘Domestic violence, mental health and substance misuse – shared issues, integrated solutions’ – Analysis Report of Pre-  and Post-Training Questionnaires and Training Evaluation Forms [PDF 1.9MB]; a report for all of the agencies involved with the project, which also contributed towards the overall evaluation of the project for its funders. It is reproduced here, with permission from BSWA. Please note that my previous surname is used on the report.

Report Cover

Attachment:  ‘Domestic violence, mental health and substance misuse – shared issues, integrated solutions’ – Analysis Report of Pre-  and Post-Training Questionnaires and Training Evaluation Forms