Moral Narratives and Mental Health: Rethinking Understandings of Distress and Healthcare Support in Contexts of Austerity and Welfare Reform

8 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2018

See all articles by Felicity Thomas

Felicity Thomas

University of Exeter

Lorraine Hansford

University of Exeter

Joseph Ford

University of Exeter

Katrina Wyatt

University of Exeter

Rosemarie McCabe

University of Exeter

Richard Byng

University of Plymouth

Date Written: April 2018

Abstract

Associations between mental health and poverty are increasingly well established. Yet in neoliberally oriented contexts in which distress engendered through the everyday hardships of poverty is increasingly pathologised and medicalised, important questions are raised over the assumptions inherent within mental health policy and its implementation. Using the UK as a focus, this paper reviews and maps out key questions that require investigation in order to better understand the complex inter-relations between poverty and distress; explores how current paradigms might influence notions of individual responsibility and agency as well as health seeking behaviours; and examines the role of, and cultural and systemic expectations and constraints placed upon GPs as they respond to distress amongst patients from low-income communities. In so doing, we argue for recognition of the moral narratives that underpin both mental health care and processes of welfare reform, and call for an expansion of conventional notions of evidence-based healthcare to incorporate the understandings, experiences and priorities of people from low-income groups. We call for more detailed questioning and analysis of the interactions that lead to mental health diagnosis and treatment and better understanding of the relevance and effectiveness of current treatment options. As a central tenet of this, we argue for more flexible and nuanced healthcare responses that better reflect the dynamic and multi-faceted nature of poverty-related distress.

Suggested Citation

Thomas, Felicity and Hansford, Lorraine and Ford, Joseph and Wyatt, Katrina and McCabe, Rosemarie and Byng, Richard, Moral Narratives and Mental Health: Rethinking Understandings of Distress and Healthcare Support in Contexts of Austerity and Welfare Reform (April 2018). Palgrave Communications, Vol. 4, Issue 1, pp. 39-39, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3162152 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/s41599-018-0091-y

Felicity Thomas (Contact Author)

University of Exeter ( email )

Northcote House
The Queen's Drive
Exeter, Devon EX4 4QJ
United Kingdom

Lorraine Hansford

University of Exeter

Northcote House
The Queen's Drive
Exeter, Devon EX4 4QJ
United Kingdom

Joseph Ford

University of Exeter

Northcote House
The Queen's Drive
Exeter, Devon EX4 4QJ
United Kingdom

Katrina Wyatt

University of Exeter

Northcote House
The Queen's Drive
Exeter, Devon EX4 4QJ
United Kingdom

Rosemarie McCabe

University of Exeter

Northcote House
The Queen's Drive
Exeter, Devon EX4 4QJ
United Kingdom

Richard Byng

University of Plymouth ( email )

Drake Circus
Plymouth, PL4 8AA
United Kingdom

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