Report reveals psychiatric hospital allegedly forced patients to reuse menstrual pads for days

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published May 22, 2024 at 12:54 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

A new report conducted by the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) has highlighted a seriously troubling issue within the National Health Service (NHS): psychiatric patients in secure units are being denied access to period products. Hat, a 26-year-old who uses gender-neutral pronouns, felt compelled to do their own research after a “humiliating” stay in a psychiatric ward where they were forced to wear the same pad for days or resort to using tissue in their pants after staff refused to provide sanitary products for “safety reasons.”

The NSUN has backed Hat’s insights into patients’ experiences. Despite the NHS stating that it “expects all hospitals to give patients access to the essentials of daily life,” Hat’s findings suggest that this expectation is not being met consistently.

During their stay in a psychiatric ward, Hat, who is originally from Weston-super-Mare, discovered that some hospitals “lock away” tampons and pads. This forced the 26-year-old to use tissue or wear the same pad for days. “It meant I’d resort to using tissue in my pants or wearing the same pad for days,” Hat explained.

To address these issues, Hat created specific guidelines, which have now been endorsed by several mental health and period charities, as well as the Royal College of Occupational Therapists. These guidelines emphasise providing appropriate products and information, prioritising patient dignity—especially when balancing safety concerns—and offering support for period pain.

https://x.com/NSUNnews/status/1791033243803717968

Hat will present their findings at an upcoming event about period equality in parliament, organised by the charity Bloody Good Period. The research collected has revealed a consistent lack of support for patients during menstrual cycles and included conversations with staff, some of whom admitted they had not considered this issue before.

Rachel Grocott, chief executive of Bloody Good Period, told the BBC that the charity has frequently encountered this issue in recent years. Still, Grocott hopes the research will help meet the basic needs of women and people who menstruate in psychiatric healthcare: “I don’t think anybody should be worrying about their period on top of that.”

NHS England announced in 2019 that period products would be available to all patients who need them, a policy that Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have also adopted.

However, unsurprisingly, many of the people Hat spoke to found that the NHS guideline was not being followed. Eleanor, for example, a 21-year-old who recently spent time in a mental health hospital, described the dehumanising experience of being watched by multiple staff members while changing, even though she understood it was for her safety: “I have been denied access to products, I’ve been denied access to underwear and I have experienced extremely restrictive practice.”

Sophina, another patient who participated in Hat’s research, shared a particularly distressing incident. On one occasion, when she requested sanitary products, two female staff members took her to her bed area and demanded that she “prove” she was on her period. “I had to pull down my trousers and my knickers, and I was quite shocked at the time but you can’t really question it, because you don’t have any power in that situation,” Sophina recalled.

Currently, one in five people who menstruate (21 per cent) in the UK are struggling to afford period products. This amounts to an estimated 2.8 million people, a million more than the year before, as reported by ActionAid.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time we’ve heard alarming stories coming from within NHS-ran psychiatric wards and mental health facilities. Recently, data uncovered in a joint investigation and podcast by The Independent and Sky News, revealed that tens of thousands of sexual assaults and incidents have been reported in NHS mental health hospitals, exposing a “national scandal” of abuse in psychiatric wards.

The investigation showed almost 20,000 reports of sexual incidents in the last five years across more than half of NHS mental health trusts.

Keep On Reading

By Charlie Sawyer

Mental health patients raped and sexually assaulted, new shocking NHS abuse scandal reveals

By Charlie Sawyer

Period poverty has people using socks and newspapers as sanitary products amid cost of living crisis

By Alma Fabiani

Period care companies are to blame for Mexico City’s tampon shortage, not its government

By Charlie Sawyer

6 easy hacks to slay no spend January this year

By Charlie Sawyer

Donald Trump warns of chaos and bedlam if his name is kept off the US presidential election ballot

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

George Santos sues Jimmy Kimmel after taking distasteful jab at Amy Schumer’s appearance

By Abby Amoakuh

We spoke to two anti-abortion advocates to test them on their feminism

By Jack Ramage

Gen Alpha, Gen iPad: What’s the consequence of raising a generation of iPad kids?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Former Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes speaks about her depression following Quiet On Set documentary

By Charlie Sawyer

Tennessee Republican Gino Bulso fights ban on cousins getting married

By Alma Fabiani

What does being so babygirl mean and what’s Jacob Elordi got to do with it?

By Abby Amoakuh

Challengers representatives step in after movie poster with racial slur goes viral

By Abby Amoakuh

Nicholas Galitzine comes out as straight and reveals guilt over playing queer characters

By Abby Amoakuh

Human rights activists petition to stop mass wedding of 100 orphaned girls in Nigeria

By Abby Amoakuh

Grave site for Megan Thee Stallion’s mother ramps up security after Nicki Minaj fans leak location

By Bianca Borissova

What role did Mormons, momfluencers and pre-teen girls play in the current Stanley Cup craze?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Donald Trump supporters attack daughter Ivanka Trump following night out with Kim Kardashian

By Charlie Sawyer

TikToker Leo Skepi faces backlash for fatphobic comments in now-deleted video

By Charlie Sawyer

American Airlines blames 9-year-old girl for not detecting flight attendant’s hidden bathroom camera

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Is Brazilian weight loss influencer Mila De Jesus dead? Fans concerned about cause of death