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Social work, politics and societyFrom radicalism to orthodoxy$
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Kenneth McLaughlin

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781847420459

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847420459.001.0001

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The politics of risk and mental health

The politics of risk and mental health

(p.80) (p.81) Five The politics of risk and mental health
Social work, politics and society

Kenneth McLaughlin

Policy Press

This chapter is about statutory mental health social work, particularly in relation to the contemporary concern with risk management and risk minimisation. Social work here is seen as having a primary role in the assessment of risk. By discussing the wider societal preoccupation with risk avoidance, its incorporation into social policy and social work can be highlighted, providing a clear example of where social work practice cannot be divorced from wider societal trends. A new Mental Health Act that amends the 1983 Act has been influenced, to a large extent, by high-profile tragedies where psychiatric patients have killed themselves or others. By discussing the actual threat posed by such people, it can be shown that the fear outweighs the reality of danger, and the dangers to civil liberties inherent in the proposed changes can be highlighted. This chapter also focuses on the increase in coercive measures by social workers under the Mental Health Act of 1983.

Keywords:   United Kingdom, social work, mental health, risk management, risk minimisation, social policy, Mental Health Act, fear, danger

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