Slides – ‘Mental Welfare: A critical discourse analysis of the construction of mental health in health & welfare policy’

Here are my slides from a presentation on how mental health is constructed within the discourse of the UK and Scottish governments. This presentation was part of the Urban Studies’ Monday Workshops at the University of Glasgow.


Abstract:

Long seen as the ‘Cinderella’ service of the NHS, mental health has received renewed policy focus in recent years. Both the UK and Scottish Governments have committed to achieving ‘parity of esteem’ between physical and mental health. There is further agreement in the policy proposals put forth in their mental health strategies, promising a public health and life course approach with increased investment and access to mental health services. In contrast, this research undertakes a critical discourse analysis that places the mental health strategies within the broader policy corpus of the UK and Scottish Governments, revealing a radical divergence beyond these similarities in how they define and configure the relationships between mental health, welfare, and employment. This divergence arises from the opposing definitions of social justice by the respective governments, evident across three key areas: the relationship between mental health and inequalities, the role welfare has in mediating mental health, and under what circumstances work can promote good mental health.

Upcoming workshop presentation – ‘Mental Welfare’

On Monday 25th March 2019, I will be presenting some initial findings from the ‘Welfare, Employment, and Mental Health’ research project. The presentation is part of the Urban Studies’ Monday Workshops at the University of Glasgow.

Abstract:

Long seen as the ‘Cinderella’ service of the NHS, mental health has received renewed policy focus in recent years. Both the UK and Scottish Governments have committed to achieving ‘parity of esteem’ between physical and mental health. There is further agreement in the policy proposals put forth in their mental health strategies, promising a public health and life course approach with increased investment and access to mental health services. In contrast, this research undertakes a critical discourse analysis that places the mental health strategies within the broader policy corpus of the UK and Scottish Governments, revealing a radical divergence beyond these similarities in how they define and configure the relationships between mental health, welfare, and employment. This divergence arises from the opposing definitions of social justice by the respective governments, evident across three key areas: the relationship between mental health and inequalities, the role welfare has in mediating mental health, and under what circumstances work can promote good mental health.

Upcoming conference presentation: ‘The Universal Acceptance of Conditionality?’

I will be presenting next month at the Welfare Conditionality: Principles, Practices and Perspectives conference, 26-28 June 2018, University of York.

Abstract:

Critics and campaigners against conditionality for welfare benefits have highlighted the severe harms resulting from sanctions and the stigmatisation of benefit claimants. In response, proponents of conditionality have oft replied with the refrain that “there has always been conditionality in the system” and point to high levels of support for conditionality from the public, including amongst benefit claimants. Yet, missing from these debates has been a detailed account of how claimants draw upon and construct justifications and critiques of welfare policy and practice. To fill this gap, this presentation explores the ethical arguments made by welfare service users who participated in the Welfare Conditionality project. Drawing on Boltanski and Thévenot’s (2006) theory of justification to outline the diversity of ethical orders participants called upon to construct their arguments, including the ways compromises and contradictions are defended or denounced. Even amongst the majority of participants who agreed with the general principle that abled bodied claimants should actively be looking for work, they rarely made reference to only one ethical order. Frequently it was argued that the sanctions regime is disproportionate and actively undermining the reciprocal duty to provide claimants with support. Furthermore, participants expressed concern that within the current welfare system there is a lack of a civic ethos amongst DWP and private contractor staff, a predominance of an industrial target driven service model, and a violation of human dignity and universal rights.