When ‘Participation’ Is Not Enough: Social Justice Practices in Mental Health and Psychiatric Hegemony
The activist notion, ‘nothing about us, without us’, is a cornerstone critique of the narrow, individualising, and pathologising ideas about distress that are contained within biomedical constructions of ‘mental illness’. The inclusion of the experiential knowledge of people who have been on the receiving end of mental health services within mental health research has received widespread praise as an empowering and inclusive alternative to medical paternalism. However, the use of ‘lived experience’ narratives should not be seen as a panacea for socially unjust outcomes, and this chapter explores the limits of ‘participation’ in mental health research and educational contexts. A major hazard is the worrying tendency for the voices of service users to be co-opted by conventional professional agenda, reducing their radical and politicising potential.
I would like to express my gratitude to Sandy Hart, for her invaluable contributions to the analysis and arguments made within this chapter.
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