That’s why we want to highlight the question of healthcare and create a dialogue between the #MeToo movement and politicians.
Petitions like #bortabrahemmavärst ('Away is good, at home is worst' – relating to sexual violence at home), #intedinhora ('Not your whore' – relating to sexual violence against people in prostitution), #underytan ('Under the surface' – victims of honour-related violence), #utanskyddsnät ('Without a safety net' – sexual violence against those suffering from substance abuse or other social problems) and #vårdensomsvek ('Care that let us down' – women subjected to sexual trauma and harassment by health professionals) testify of traumatized people who received substandard care and, in the worst cases, were subject to assault and violations from healthcare staff.
In the petition #omniberättarlyssnarvi (if you talk, we’ll listen), 1,299 psychologists attested to their patients’ and clients’ vulnerability – at least 39,500 narratives of assault in total.
Talking about assault is still closely linked with shame. Many don’t talk about what they experienced, and healthcare professionals are often bad at asking. But the biggest problem is that access to effective treatment is lacking.
Without treatment, there’s a significant risk of long-term mental health problems, for example post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety – with reduced quality of life and, in the worst instances, suicidal tendencies, as a result. There’s also a higher risk of suffering from physical health problems, substance abuse, or long-term sickness requiring time off work.
One of seven suggestions for political measures put forward by the coordinators of the #MeToo petitions is about increased efforts when it comes to treatment. In Almedalen, Equality Minister Lena Hallengren and the Moderate Party’s equality spokesperson Jessica Polfjärd showed engagement in the issue, but throughout the entire election campaign, we’ve not had any proposals of concrete investment.
Approximately just five percent of patients with mental health issues receive psychological assessment and treatment, according to national guidelines. Those who seek treatment after assault are rejected or have to wait much too long, despite the fact there are effective psychological treatments.
Would we accept so few getting the right care for any physical condition? Imagine that only five percent received care for cervical cancer. That would never be accepted.
In the case of cervical cancer, the healthcare sector has received resources to work with information campaigns, screenings at a national level, and extensive routines so that as many people as possible get treatment at an early stage.
When hundreds of thousands attested to harassment and abuse, we listened – but it’s not enough just to listen. There’s a need for concrete efforts and special measures for the relevant group.
We want to see a healthcare sector that works proactively and uses outreach to identify people early on who are developing mental health problems as a result of sexual assault. It should be as obvious to screen for this as it is to carry out smear tests for those at a risk of cervical cancer.
Sex-workers, people with substance dependencies, and those who are at risk of honour-related violence seek care less frequently. Therefore, they should be asked about any vulnerability through contact with the social services and other facilities, and they should be helped to receive further care as needed.
Care must be scaled based on the number of those affected. A large increase of psychological treatment requires primary care as well as specialist care, both for children and adults.
Within the #MeToo movements there is important knowledge both from the perspective of patients and those treating them. Within #omniberättarlyssnarvi (If you talk, we’ll listen), there is psychological expertise in trauma and care development, which are completely necessary in the work that needs to happen.
We are now inviting the responsible politicians (including Minister for Social Affairs Annika Strandhäll and the social policy spokesperson for the Moderates, Camilla Waltersson Grönvall) to a meeting in August. That’s when we will sit down together and discuss the solutions which give the best possibility of change.
#omniberättarlyssnarvi ('If you talk, we'll listen')
Kerstin Bergh Johannesson
Sveriges Kliniska Psykologers Förening
#allmänhandling ('Public records)
#bortabrahemmavärst ('Away is bad, at home is worse')
Hanna Kaiser Barnes
#ickegodkänt ('Not approved')
#intedinhora ('Not your whore')
#lättaankar ('Cast anchor')
Anna Velander Gisslén
#nödvärn ('Self defence')
#sistabriefen ('The last brief')
#slutvillkorat ('Final terms')
#underytan ('Under the surface')
#utanskyddsnät ('Without a safety net')
#virivermurarna ('We tear down walls')
#vårdensomsvek ('Care that let us down')
Natalia Valiente Vecchio
Coordinators for the #MeToo petitions