Mental health service user involvement in policy development: social inclusion or disempowerment?

Sue Cowan, David Banks, Paul Crawshaw, Andrew Clifton

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose – The paper’s purpose is to reopen a debate around the potential impact of narrow
    conceptualisations of inclusion, or participation, of service users in current mental health policy
    development and implementation.
    Design/methodology/approach – The approach here is a conceptual analysis of the continuity of
    "New Labour" thinking and its connection to Putnam on social capital and citizenship, whilst also
    offering counter critiques drawing on Bourdieu, Rose, and Arnstein.
    Findings – The findings show the potential for disempowerment and argue for alternative service user
    action, either contracting on ‘‘their own rules of engagement’’ or specifically taking up an oppositional
    stance to disempowering forms of involvement. The authors also draw attention to the influence of differing
    English and Scottish policy drivers which appear to offer potentially different forms of engagement.
    Originality/value – The paper offers a fresh analysis that particularly points to the potential value
    of service user groups considering alternative forms of involvement, rather than those prescribed by
    ‘‘Third Way’’ or ‘‘Big Society’’ thinking.
    Keywords Service user involvement, Social inclusion, Participation, Co-option, Citizenship
    Paper type Conceptual paper
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)177-184
    Number of pages8
    JournalMental Health Review Journal
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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