Consistencies and inconsistencies: mental health, compulsory treatment and community capacity building in England, Wales and Australia

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In relation to mental health, it is clear that medicalized underpinnings, the provision of a clinically orientated evidence base for practice and the need to contain ‘risk’ continue to be prioritized, particularly when compulsory intervention is considered. This is despite the increasing influence of a citizenship and social justice agenda which is being promoted by psychiatrists involved in the development of ‘postpsychiatry’, as well as by service users/survivors. These drivers are not mutually exclusive, but in the context of compulsory treatment, there are clear tensions. In this article, the policy surrounding mental health and compulsory intervention in Australia and in England and Wales is explored. In the context of this discussion, three ways in which current government policy can be interpreted are examined and links made between these interpretations and different ways of viewing the relationship between mental health and community capacity building. With regard to social work practice, it is argued that a response to mental ill health which concentrates on an individualized ‘diagnose and treat’ approach, which particularly comes to the fore at times of compulsory intervention, has limited capacity to facilitate community engagement, foster social inclusion and generate reciprocal dynamics between positive mental health and community capacity building.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1027-1042
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2006


  • mental health
  • Australia
  • England
  • Wales
  • capacity building
  • comparative analysis

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