Derek Chambers
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When health means illness
Analysing mental health discourses and practices in Ireland
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In this chapter, the author utilizes ideas drawn from governmentality to explore the emergence, and sometimes uneasy co-existence, of the biomedical discourses in the mental health policy arena. As Michel Foucault and other authors have noted, discourses constructing mental health have been strongly tied to biomedical understandings of mental illness and the medical speciality of psychiatry. The operational elements of A Vision for Change: Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy (AVFC) betray the claims to whole-population relevance of mental health and reinforce a narrow conception of mental health as a euphemism for mental illness. The theoretical framework of governmentality can be helpful in exploring tensions between the mentalities and practices of governing, and discourses as they have developed around mental health policy and practice in Ireland.

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