Towards a gendered perspective for Irish mental health policy and service provision.
ABSTRACT Background: The Irish Government has adopted "Gender Mainstreaming" as a strategy to promote equal opportunities between women and men in its National Development Plan. While current mental health policy addresses the principle of partnership and social inclusiveness as a way forward for mental health service provision, it still does not explicitly deal with the notion of gender and gender sensitivity. Indeed, Irish mental health policy and service provision is criticised for being gender-neutral. Aim: This paper explores the relationship between gender, mental health policy and service provision. Method: The literature on theoretical perspectives on mental health policy, gender and mental health in relation to Irish mental health policy is reviewed. Results: The importance of gender for policy development and service provision is recognised, and the need to reformulate debate within a gendered context is discussed. Some key theoretical perspectives and their significance for mental health policy are considered with possible explanations for the absence of a gender perspective for Irish mental health policy presented. Conclusion: Arguably, a move towards developing gender-sensitive mental health policy and service provision requires a stronger awareness of and connections between the macro, meso and micro levels for policy development and analysis.