Mental Health Policy Making in England in the Risk Society. A Political Discourse Analysis



Paterson B, McComish A, McIntosh I & Mason T (2013) Mental Health Policy Making in England in the Risk Society. A Political Discourse Analysis. Journal of Risk and Governance, 2 (3), pp. 147-158.

Safe Sound and Supportive the then new Labour Government's mental health strategy for England was launched in 1999. The launch confirmed a radical change with the emphasis moved from "libertarianism to coercion" (Holloway 1996:235). The stated aims of the new policy included reassurance for a public described as "understandably concerned about the risks of violence" and whose safety was to become "first priority at all times" (Department of Health 1999:7). It has been suggested that a number of events, particularly the deaths of Isabel Schwarz, a social worker killed by a mental health service user in 1984, the serious injuries suffered by Ben Silcock, filmed jumping into the Lion's den at London Zoo in 1992 and Jonathan Zito a member of the public killed in a random attack by a service users at a London Tube station in 1992 played a critical role. More particularly it has been argued that the framing of the latter event by newspapers as evidence of a widespread threat to public safety, had a causal influence that led to the prioritisation of public safety as a policy objective in English mental health services, (Rogers and Pilgrim 2001). This transformation positioned social concerns over clinical judgment (Crowe and Carlyle 2003) and ultimately altered not just the subjectivities of mental health practitioners including nurses but their practice reflected in subsequently soaring rates of compulsory admissions (Szmukler and Holloway 2000).

Journal of Risk and Governance: Volume 2, Issue 3

Publication date30/06/2013
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Publisher URL…roducts_id=44151

People (1)


Dr Ian McIntosh
Dr Ian McIntosh

Senior Lecturer, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology