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Journal Article


McLindon E, Harms L. Int. J. Ment. Health Nurs. 2011; 20(1): 2-11.


Department of Social Work, School of Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


(Copyright © 2011, Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Inc., Publisher John Wiley and Sons)






Women are overrepresented within mental health service-use statistics, and a disproportionate number of them have experienced sexual assault. While mental health workers are often the first point of contact between these women and the mental health system, within the research to date, women have often reported a negative experience of disclosing sexual assault to these workers. This article presents findings from an exploratory Australian study. The aim of the study was to explore factors that influenced how mental health Crisis Assessment and Treatment Service (CATS) workers respond to women who disclose sexual assault in crisis service settings. Fifteen CATS workers were surveyed and the predominantly qualitative data were then analysed using thematic analysis. This article presents two key findings: (i) the majority of participants had not experienced adequate sexual assault training, and seven of the 15 did not feel well equipped to respond to a disclosure of sexual assault; and (ii) they rarely consulted or referred women to specialist sexual assault services, despite recognizing the significant impact of sexual assault on mental health functioning. Recommendations are made for training and increased communication between mental health and sexual assault service systems to ensure better outcomes for women.

Language: en


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