The mental health service crisis of neoliberalism - an antipodean perspective

Abstract

Major transformations in forms of governance of the liberal state have been wrought over the course of the last century, including the rise of neoliberalism and 'new public management'. Mental health too has witnessed change, with pharmacological treatment displacing residential care, a shift to community-based services, 'mainstreaming' with general health care, and greater reliance on civil society institutions such as the family or markets. This paper considers whether mental health law, and its court/tribunal 'gatekeepers', have kept pace with those changes. It argues that the focus of the liberal project needs to shift to measures which will better guarantee access to mental health services, and keep a more watchful eye on both 'hidden' coercion of people on community treatment orders, and passive neglect of human need.

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