For years we have documented the varying areas of life in which women and girls bear the brunt of discrimination and sexism. In our family courts, domestic violence services, law enforcement/criminal justice system, genital integrity, education and a host of other areas, women and girls are systematically short-changed.
The mental health industry is one of the most brutal and culpable forces concerning these issues. Countless social workers and psychologists turn a blind eye to the genital mutilation of girls and the science proving its detrimental effects on its victims. There are perhaps an even greater number of mental health professionals who knowingly and unknowingly operate under tainted research and a false narrative about domestic violence. These individuals often actively work to prevent female victims and their children from accessing services, either through malicious intent or willful ignorance.
A pernicious and destructive sexism pervades the mental health industry. It operates unchallenged behind a façade of false objectivity, false inclusiveness and false compassion. Sadly, the mental health industry is ignorant of even the most basic differences between women and men in the ways we process emotions. Women are often expected to emote like men. When they don’t, they’re judged as deficient.
These facts, and many, many more have created an unambiguous need for change in the helping professions.
The Women’s Mental Health Network is the first major step toward making that happen.
Our Mission Statement and promise:
The Women’s Mental Health Network provides an alternative to the mainstream mental health profession which has grown increasingly sexist and indifferent to the problems faced by women and girls. We will apply our 100+ years of collective expertise in women’s issues to develop and provide training material for other mental health professionals.”
At launch, we will provide direct services in the areas of grief and loss, high-conflict relationships, addictions and women with disabilities.
This is only the beginning.
We are presently consulting with other mental health professionals who practice without disparaging assumptions about women and girls. These professionals understand the current aberrant shortcomings of the mental health field.
Upon thorough vetting, we will add these professionals to a public directory. The ultimate goal is to provide a comprehensive, international mental health network in which both online and offline services are available.
The importance of that is difficult to overstate. When people seek relief from the “helping” professions and are instead given political ideology, it is an abuse of their trust. There is a reason so many women roll their eyes at the mention of therapy and counseling. It is the same reason they are far less likely than men to reach out for help. Their suspicions are 100% justified.
They are telling us quite clearly that the mental health field must change, not the women. The Women’s Mental Health Network is the first earnest attempt to answer them.
As the Women’s Mental Health Network directory grows and solidifies, our next objective is to create and provide authorized continuing education and training for mental health professionals. It will be designed completely on evidence-based clinical need, not political correctness. We will target under-recognized and often ignored areas of study, such as misogyny and gynocentrism. This training is intended to confront and scrutinize already faulty beliefs held by so many in the mental health field.
Additionally, we will adopt a very public role in challenging many mental health institutions and individuals by calling attention to sexist and harmful practices. We will not shy from nor let pass any entity or individual who is part of the problem.
Women and their problems have long been ignored, minimized and even ridiculed by the mainstream mental health industry. Today marks the beginning of corrective action. We start by building a network of professionals who don’t view women as the default problem and have both comprehension of and compassion for their struggles.
We will turn that platform into a beacon of light that challenges the rampant discrimination against women in the mental health field and force an end to the empathy gap that now plagues women and girls at the most vulnerable moments in their lives.
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Tom Golden LCSW and
Tara Palmatier, PsyD