Trauma hospital for women challenges status quo

2 minute read

GPs now have a referral option and clinical pathway for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.

An inpatient PTSD treatment program has just opened at Australia’s first women-only, trauma-informed mental health facility.  

In The Tea Room this week Dr Karen Williams (pictured, right), medical director of the Ramsey Clinic Thirroul, talks about the why the hospital is needed.   

Women with PTSD are too often misdiagnosed with multiple personality disorder and provided very poor treatment options, Dr Williams says. Compared to the Australian Defence Force patients Dr Williams has worked with previously, there’s a big inequity. 

“We don’t tell a solider returning from deployment ‘You have mental illness, an angry disorder’. We diagnose PTSD and provide a variety of individualised treatments,” Dr Williams says. But for the one in five women in Australia who have experienced domestic violence there has been no clinical pathway until now.   

In this episode Dr Williams provides a bounty of clinical advice and much food for thought about diagnosing and treating people who have experienced trauma from assault. Dr Walker guides GPs to look for sleep issues and chronic headaches that are unresponsive to treatment. She also cautions against sedating women with PTSD during the day as this only increases anxiety. 

Becc Spradau (pictured, left), diversity and inclusion specialist, also joins us in The Tea Room this episode. In a candid interview Becc shares about her lived experience of PTSD caused by childhood sexual assault. Becc talks about the bewildering chronic pain she has lived with for decades and how a PTSD diagnosis changed her life in 2020. She has a message for the GP who “finally saw what was going on” and diagnosed PTSD.  

“I am just so very grateful that you took the time and you listened. You were able to point me in the direction of some light,” she says.  
Ramsey Clinic Thirroul can be contacted on (02) 4267 2811. 

You can listen and subscribe to the show by searching for “The Tea Room Medical Republic” in your favourite podcast player.  

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