Improving recognition of menstrual health in psychiatric inpatient settings: research project

Published: March 2023
Last updated: January 202
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NSUN is supporting a research project exploring experiences of how menstrual health needs are met, or not met, for people in psychiatric inpatient settings.

Dark pink text on a light pink background: "Improving recognition of menstrual health in psychiatric inpatient settings. This is a project exploring experiences of how patient's menstrual health is supported in psychiatric inpatient settings". Illustrations of menstrual pads and tampons are on either side of the text.

The aim of this study is to develop understanding of people’s experiences of menstrual health whilst in psychiatric inpatient settings and co-develop guidance to address barriers. 

What is the project about?

In inpatient settings people experience restrictions on access to everyday items due to management of risk, reduced control over their environment and being unable to leave the hospital to purchase items needed (CQC, 2019). This may include barriers to accessing preferred menstrual products.

There is currently minimal research on meeting the menstrual health needs of people in inpatient settings (Barry, 2018; Hughes et al, 2019; Lyons and Sullivan, 2021; Porter, 2022). The minimal research around the relationships between mental health and menstruation relies on measures such as number of hospital admissions; hormone levels; or observations of behaviour (Jang and Elfenbein, 2019; Handy et al, 2022), leaving a large gap in research around the lived experiences of people as reported by themselves.

This is a small-scale research study which aims to develop understanding of people’s experiences of menstrual health whilst in psychiatric inpatient settings and co-develop guidance to address any barriers identified. As such, it is imperative a diverse range of patients are listened to as part of this research to support development of guidelines which reflect the needs and desires of the people they would directly impact.

References

Barry, L., (2018) A tool to track links between menstruation and mental health. Mental Health Practice. https://doi.org/10.7748/mhp.2018.e1318

Care Quality Commission (2019) Brief guide: the use of ‘blanket restrictions’ in mental health wards. Available from: https://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/files/20191125_900767_briefguide-blanket_restrictions_mental_health_wards_v3.pdf

Daisung Jang & Hillary Anger Elfenbein (2019) Menstrual Cycle Effects on Mental Health Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis, Archives of Suicide Research, 23:2, 312-332, DOI: 10.1080/13811118.2018.1430638

Handy, A. B., Greenfield, S. F., Yonkers, K. A., & Payne, L. A. (2022). Psychiatric Symptoms Across the Menstrual Cycle in Adult Women: A Comprehensive Review. Harvard review of psychiatry30(2), 100–117. https://doi.org/10.1097/HRP.0000000000000329

Hughes, L., Lambert, N., Hart., T., @BipolarBlogger., @Sectioned_., Gamble., C and other members of MHNAUK and Twitter community (2019) “Seeing Red!”: Why We need Menstruation Awareness in Mental Health Services: Mental Health Nurse Academics Briefing Paper 2019.

Lyons, P., & Sullivan., V. (2021) Exploring patient’s experiences of menstruation in secure services. Royal College of Psychiatrists Forensic Poster Gallery 2021. Available from: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/docs/default-source/events/faculties-and-sigs/forensic/poster-gallery-2021/forensic—lyons-poster—2021.pdf?sfvrsn=3dc0b751_2

Porter, H., (2022) It’s about time we talk about periods. OT News 30(9) pp. 42-45. 

Who is involved in this research?

This research is led by Hattie Porter (they/them) with support from NSUN. This is a lived experience led research project motivated by my own experiences of multiple psychiatric inpatient settings, none of which recognised or supported my needs relating to menstrual health.

What does the research involve?

The research comprises of three stages: surveys for people with lived experience and for staff working in psychiatric inpatient settings; individual interviews for people with lived experience; and finally a focus group to review the findings and co-develop guidance and recommendations for the research report around better supporting menstrual health in psychiatric inpatient settings. We have now completed these phases and the research report is due to be published in Spring 2024.

If you have any questions about this research, you can contact us at menstrualhealth23@gmail.com or info@nsun.org.uk.

Do you have ethical approval?

This research has ethical approval from the NHS Health Research Authority.

East of England – Cambridge East Research Ethics Committee, REC reference: 23/EE/0018, IRAS project ID: 323731