SafeLives calls on the Government to improve mental health support for domestic abuse survivors

Today during Mental Health Awareness Week, SafeLives publishes Safe and Well. The research – which comes as parliament considers a draft Domestic Abuse Bill – has found health services are failing the many victims and survivors of domestic abuse with mental health needs, missing opportunities to ensure people are safe, sooner. It calls on the Department of Health and Social care, and its equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to show leadership in tackling the problem.

Mental health problems are a common consequence of experiencing domestic abuse, both for adults and children – SafeLives data shows that at the time of accessing domestic abuse support, 42% of survivors have mental health problems and 17% have planned or attempted suicide. Having mental health issues can render a person more vulnerable to abuse. Despite these links, domestic abuse is going undetected in mental health services.

These findings paint a grim picture of the support available for victims and survivors experiencing mental health problems. Our report, together with the government’s own data, suggests the NHS could save billions – as well as saving lives – by taking a more pro-active approach to the public health co-epidemics of domestic abuse and mental health.

Suzanne Jacob OBE, Chief Executive of SafeLives

I really was good at holding it together externally but inside I really felt I was going insane – I couldn’t control my thoughts, I couldn’t sleep and was in constant pain or feeling like I couldn’t breathe. I got to a point where I didn’t think I could carry on.


Despite the fact mental health issues are more common in cases of domestic abuse, both victims and perpetrators continue to be missed by mental health services. That means we are missing a huge opportunity to better detect, treat and save the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

This report has an important part to play in better preparing mental health professionals to truly get to the heart of the lives of the patients they see, and I speak as a frontline psychiatrist when I say that is our number one priority.

Dr Beena Rajkumar of The Royal College of Psychiatrists

Read the Report

There is a link between domestic abuse and mental health problems. Mental health problems are a common consequence of experiencing domestic abuse, both for adults and children.

Safe and Well

Notes to Editors

Domestic Abuse

Every year in the UK, more than two million adults suffer some form of domestic abuse. Crucially, 85% of victims of domestic abuse seek help five times on average before they get effective support, and four out of five victims of domestic abuse do not call the police.

About the Spotlights series

Spotlights shines a light on ‘hidden’ victims and survivors of domestic abuse, who face additional barriers when accessing support. We bring together our own research alongside the work of other expert organisations, practice expertise and most importantly the voices of survivors. This report brings together the findings of our 7th Spotlight, focusing on victims and survivors of domestic abuse experiencing mental health difficulties. Previous Spotlights have looked at older people, disabled survivors, young people, ‘honour’-based violence and forced marriage, homelessness and LGBT+ victims and survivors.


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