Happy International Women’s Day from the Centre for Military Women’s Research 

International Women's Day

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It invites the world to recognise efforts and progress made towards gender equality and to reflect on what more we can do.  

This year’s theme, #Inspire Inclusion, calls on us to “break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments where all women are valued and respected”.  In recognition of this theme, this blog puts a spotlight on our recent research project ‘I don’t feel like that’s for me’: Overcoming barriers to mental healthcare for women veterans’.  The project explored the mental healthcare support needs and experience of women veterans in England, and developed guidance for professionals supporting women veterans’ mental health. 

What did we find?  Women veterans may face several gendered barriers when accessing support for their mental health. These include services being perceived as being male-dominated and designed for men (often related to male and combat-focused branding), limited understanding of women’s needs, misconceptions around women’s role in the Armed Forces, women not identifying with the term ‘veteran’, and caring responsibilities taking precedent. Importantly, the project highlights how trauma-informed approaches to care can help to overcome barriers and facilitate positive experiences within support services for women veterans. We’ve created a mnemonic ‘WOMAN VET’ to help mental healthcare professionals remember the key takeaway messages for offering the best support to women veterans. 

Want to find out more? Check out the project infographic, summary report and guidance for mental healthcare professionals here.  

We wanted to end our International Women’s Day blog with a special thank you to all the women in the military community who have played a part in our research as members of an expert-by-experience group or research participants. Without your support and time, the work of the CWMR would not be possible.  

Stay tuned for our next blog post, where you will hear from interns at the CMWR about their experiences learning about women in the military community and assisting with research during their internship program.