Research has shown that domestic and sexual violence against women often leads to increased substance abuse and mental health problems. However, services commissioned to support these women often work in isolation, focusing on only one of the three issues. Frontline practitioners do not always have the training, assessment tools and referral channels they need; and frameworks result in women falling through the gaps in service provision.
To address these problems, in 2010 the organisation Against Violence & Abuse was awarded funding by the Department of Health to run the Stella Project Mental Health Initiative (SPMHI) for three years – part of the wider Stella Project that had already been running for several years.
SPMHI is carrying out action research with selected violence against women organisations, substance use and mental health agencies in Bristol, Nottinghamshire and the London Borough of Hounslow. The aim is to develop, implement and evaluate a model of integrated partnership. The project focuses on policy and procedure working; training and partnership working; good practice guidance; and a free online training course.
Middlesex University's Forensic Psychological Services (FPS) was commissioned to evaluate the work. We collected data before the work in the agencies began and after it took place. The final report will be produced when the project finishes in May 2013.
Funder: The Department of Health-funded Against Violence & Abuse
Lead investigator: Dr Miranda Horvath
Co-investigators: Dr Susan Hansen and Professor Joanna Adler
Research assistants: Megan Hiserodt, Jennifer Herring and Shola Apena Rogers
The Stella Project also involved parallel research into the affects of violence and substance abuse on younger women – the Stella Project Young Women's Initiative.