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Views And Reviews

Face-down restraint has no place in modern mental health settings

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 24 April 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j1953
  1. Katharine Sacks-Jones, director
  1. Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk
  1. katharine{at}

The use of physical restraint in mental health facilities should not be routine practice—especially not against women and girls

Concern over women’s mental health is growing. Suicide rates among women in the UK are at their highest since 20051 and recent data show that young women are the highest risk group for mental health problems.2

Among the women and girls who face mental illness, some—those with the most severe conditions—will be admitted to inpatient wards for treatment. However, Agenda’s latest research on restraint3 has shown that mental health units are not always the therapeutic environments we hope, but places where physical restraint is routine.

Agenda, an alliance of more than 70 organisations campaigning for women and girls at risk, is particularly concerned about this because of the close links between women’s and girls’ mental health and their experiences of abuse and trauma.

More than half of women who have mental health problems have experienced abuse4—and the links are particularly pronounced for those with …

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