Event: Improving mental health provision in Northern Ireland (January 2017; Belfast)

Event: Improving mental health provision in Northern Ireland: prevention, treatment and developments in care

Date: Tuesday, 17th January 2017

Place: Belfast

Timed to follow the Department for Health’s ongoing review of the Bamford Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability – and with the Minister for Health identifying mental health as a key priority for the forthcoming mandate and pledging to be a ‘mental health champion’ – this timely seminar will assess mental health provision in Northern Ireland. Delegates will have an opportunity to consider the recommendations of the Department’s evaluation of the Bamford Review, including how reform would be implemented and what effect it may have on service users and the Health Service. There will also be an opportunity to discuss how to best utilise the resources allocated for the prevention and treatment of mental health problems; bring out new thinking in relation to methods of care and treatment; and consider issues surrounding the growing problem of poor mental health in young people and mental health issues for older people. Those attending will include key policymakers as well as stakeholders from Health and Social Care services for mental health, advocacy and patient groups, mental health charities and community care organisations, local authorities, academics and commentators, and others with an interest in the important issues being discussed.

We are delighted to be able to include in this seminar a keynote address from Andrew Dawson, Head of Mental Health Policy and Capacity Unit, Department of Health, Northern Ireland Executive. Further confirmed speakers include: Oscar Donnelly, Divisional Director, Mental Health, Learning Disability and Community, Northern Health and Social Care Trust; Dr Iris Elliott, Head of Policy and Research, Mental Health Foundation; Dr Raman Kapur, Chief Executive, Threshold; Dr Gerry Lynch, Chair, Royal College of Psychiatrists in Northern Ireland and Vice Chair, Royal College of Psychiatrists; Mairéad McCafferty, Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People; Trevor Millar, Director, Adult Mental Health and Disability Services, Western Health and Social Care Trust; Professor Siobhan O’Neill, Professor of Mental Health Sciences, Ulster University and Eileen Shevlin, Expert by experience.

Robbie Butler MLA, Ulster Unionist Party Spokesperson for Mental Health and Member, Committee for Health, Northern Ireland Assembly has kindly agreed to chair the first half of this seminar.

For more info – Link: www.policyforumforni.co.uk/forums/event.php?eid=1362&t=18818


Westminster Education Forum on Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing (London, UK: October 2016)

Event title: Children’s mental health and wellbeing – integrating services, improving provision and the role of schools

Date: Tuesday, 11th October 2016

Place: Central London

This event is CPD certified

***Guest of Honour: Natasha Devon, Mental Health Champion, Department for Education***

To more info and to book a place – click here.

With Government’s plans to spend £1.25 billion on improving children’s mental health services over the next 5 years, this conference will bring together key stakeholders and policymakers to discuss priorities for children’s mental health – including measures to improve provision, commissioning and delivery. It follows concerns of an emerging ‘time bomb’ of serious mental health conditions in England, with evidence that 75% of mental health problems in adult life (excluding dementia) start by the age of 18. The conference takes place in the context of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce’s first major report, Future in Mind, which outlines how the NHS, schools, voluntary services and local authorities can better integrate mental health provision. It is also timed to come one year on from Natasha Devon’s appointment as the Department for Education’s first ever mental health champion, providing delegates with an opportunity to assess the progress that has been made in improving mental health provision for schoolchildren. Attendees will discuss steps to improve teachers’ awareness of mental health issues in school, including the role of the curriculum. They will also assess latest thinking in this area, such as a new blueprint for schools on counselling services, the implementation of renewed guidance and mental health lesson plans and the piloting of Heads of Wellbeing, who will be responsible for staff training, educating parents and promoting wellbeing in schools. The role of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education in improving children’s understanding of mental health and wellbeing will also be considered. At this early stage, we are delighted that Natasha Devon, Mental Health Champion, Department for Education has agreed to be a Guest of Honour at this seminar.

The following have agreed to give keynote speeches:

  • Chris Caldwell, Dean of Healthcare Professions, North Central and East London Office, Health Education England;
  • Dr Davina Deniszczyc, Medical Executive Director, Nuffield Health;
  • Dr Neil Ralph, Programme Manager for Mental Health and Learning Disability, Health Education England;
  • Professor Stephen Scott, Chair, Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Professor of Child Health and Behaviour, King’s College London

The following have agreed to speak:

  • Dr Peter Hindley, Chair, Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Royal College of Psychiatrists;
  • Hannah Kinsey, Training and Consultancy Manager, YoungMinds;
  • Catherine Roche, Chief Executive, Place2Be;
  • Enver Solomon, Director of Evidence and Impact, National Children’s Bureau (NCB);
  • Dr Bernard Trafford, Headmaster, Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • A representative from Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), West London Mental Health Trust and North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups
DRF News

Centre for Comedy Studies Research (CCSR) Research Seminar Series 2014/15 ‘Comedy, Health and Disability’ – Seminar 1

To celebrate their 1st birthday, the Centre for Comedy Studies Research (CCSR) are holding their first Comedy Matters Research Seminar for 2014-15.

Date: Wednesday 8th October 2014

Time: 4.00pm-5.30pm with a drinks reception/birthday party 5.30pm-6.30pm

Location: Mead Room, Hamilton Centre, Brunel University London, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 3PH

Seminar 1 = Comedy and Mental Health Symposium

This symposium will discuss comedy and its relationship to mental health, with speakers discussing the psychology of the stand-up comedian, the use of stand-up comedy in reducing mental health stigma in the military and uses of comedy with mental health service users.

Speakers: Gordon Claridge is Emeritus Professor of Abnormal Psychology, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Emeritus Fellow, Magdalen College, and Visiting Professor, Oxford Brookes University. Professor Claridge is an internationally renowned expert in the relationship between personality and psychological disorders, adopting a broadly dimensional view. Recently, he has been involved in research on the psychology of the stand-up comedian. More generally, his research on the relationship between personality and psychological disorders has been inspired, on the practical front, by working as a clinical psychologist and, on the academic front, by experimental research on the topic. In mid-career he began to focus particularly on psychotic disorders, developing measurement scales for assessing schizotypal characteristics in the general population and using these to examine laboratory correlates in a wide range of subject samples, including relatives of psychotic patients. The central thesis in all of this work is that, while genetically predisposing to mental illness, psychotic characteristics are not in themselves pathological. On the contrary, they may have many healthy adaptive qualities, of which creativity is the most salient example.

Tim Sayers works as one of the arts in health co-ordinators at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT). He has a background in mental health nursing, specialising in working with people with severe and enduring mental health problems and also with people with drug and alcohol problems. Tim has been involved with arts in mental health on a voluntary basis for approximately fifteen years; initially as a founder member of the Brainstorm Arts in Mental Health Group in Birmingham, then as the founder member of BrightSparks: Arts in Mental Health Group in 1999. BrightSparks is dedicated to promoting positive images of mental health through the arts and has an expanding portfolio of arts projects which are mainly delivered in partnership with LPT. Tim is dedicated to using the arts, in particular comedy, to promote positive images of mental health, social inclusion, and service user and carer involvement. Tim is studying for an MSc in Recovery and Social Inclusion at Nottingham University at present, and has had articles published in his field in the past. He has extensive experience of teaching and workshop leading and is also an experienced freelance performer and workshop leader in the fields of music, poetry, comedy, magic and circus skills.

John Ryan is a stand-up comedian and one of seven co-researchers at the Department for Military Mental Health, Kings College, London, on a project that examined ‘modifying attitudes to mental health using comedy as a delivery medium’ in the armed forces. The research aimed to use comedy to help persuade military personnel to seek help with mental health issues. John is also winner of the 2011 Scottish Mental Health and Arts Film Festival Best Short Documentary Award, the 2010 NHS Regional Health and Social Care award winner for Mental Health and Well Being and in 2010 received a Royal Society for Public Health Special Commendation for contributions to the field of Arts and Health Equalities.

We are pleased to announce that we have one £40 travel grant available for a low income researcher or PhD student attending this event. Please email Simon Weaver [simon.weaver@brunel.ac.uk] by Monday 29th September 2014 if you wish to apply.  To apply please send a short paragraph (max 250 words) explaining why you wish to attend the seminar.

For catering purposes please register at comedy.studies@brunel.ac.uk

Everyone very welcome!

For more information, please email Dr Sharon Lockyer (Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Communications + Director, Centre for Comedy Studies Research (CCSR), Brunel University, UK) [Sharon.Lockyer@brunel.ac.uk]

Twitter: @Comedy_Studies

DRF News

CFP: CAMHS 2014 Conference (Children and Young People’s Mental Health) – Northampton, UK: July, 2014

Event:  CAMHS 2014 Conference (Children and Young People’s Mental Health)

Theme: Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future

Date: 2-4 July 2014

Venue: Park Campus, University of Northampton, UK 

First call for papers: Following on from the successful 2013 Child and Adolescent Mental Health, this 3 day conference aims to provide a space in which professionals and academics can explore research, theory and practice in child and adolescent mental health. It is an opportunity to reflect on and critique established research, policy and practice, to share and celebrate what works, and to explore solutions to the challenges of the future.

Papers, posters, workshops, symposia and other contributions are invited that engage the conference theme. Some suggestions of possible focuses include:

  • Promoting mental health
  • Critical perspectives in children’s mental health
  • Widening access to CAMH services
  • Social relationships, mental health and wellbeing
  • Cultural issues in CAMHS
  • Innovations in CAMHS
  • Outcomes monitoring
  • Mental Health policy
  • Gender and sexualities
  • Working with families
  • Mental health in schools
  • • Early Interventions and many more

Keynote Speakers

Kathryn Pugh: Kathryn is the Programme Lead for Children and Young People’s IAPT. She has managed the programme since its inception in January 2011.  Her first job in the NHS was in primary care, moving to commissioning primary, secondary and specialist care in both acute and mental health. She joined YoungMinds to run SOS project for 16-25s and became Head of Policy and Innovation, leading for the Mental Health Alliance and Children’s Charities on lobbying to change the Mental Health Act to reflect the needs of children and young people, including amendments to prevent inappropriate admission of under 18s to adult mental health wards.

Kathryn joined the National CAMHS Support Service as a CAMHS Regional Development Worker in London and simultaneously worked for first NIMHE then NMHDU as National Lead for the Children and Young People’s Programme implementing the MHA 2007, then ran the joint NCSS NMHDU MH Transitions programme.

Professor Peter Fonagy, PhD, FBA, OBE: Peter is National Clinical Lead of Children and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies and Director of UCL Partners’ Mental Health and Well-Being Programme.

Professor Peter Smith: Peter is Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Unit for School and Family Studies at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His research interests include social development in the home and school; play; aggression and bullying in childhood; cyberbullying; and the similarities and differences between bullying in western countries, Japan, and South Korea.

Dr Katherine Runswick-Cole: Katherine is a Senior Research Fellow in Disability Studies and Psychology, at Manchester Metropolitan University. Katherine’s research has mainly focused on the lives of disabled children and their families and draws on a critical disability studies perspective.

Professor Arlene Vetere: Arlene is professor of family therapy and systemic practice at Diakonhjemmet University College, Oslo, Norway, and affiliate professor of family studies, in the department of family studies, Malta University.  Arlene retired from her post as professor of clinical psychology at Surrey University in December, 2013 in order to spend more time writing. Her latest book is edited with Miochael Tarren-Sweeney, The Mental Health Needs of Vulnerable Children, published by Routledge, 2014. She has co-written ‘Systemic Therapy and Attachment Narratives’ with Rudi Dallos, 2009, Routledge.

Peter Stratton: Peter is Emeritus Professor of Family Therapy at the Leeds Family Therapy & Research Centre.

Submission for the First Call for Papers are invited. The closing date for the first call is 16 March 2014. You are welcome to submit either individual papers, symposia, or workshop proposals, as well as abstracts for posters. Please complete the abstract submission form.

Authors submitting their abstract for the first call for papers should expect a response from the panel by no later than 11 April 2014. This will enable them to take advantage of the Early Bird registration for the conference.

Second call for papers: The deadline for the second call for papers is 12 May 2014

Information regarding registration can be found here.

Please note that, as with all academic conferences, it is expected that speakers register for at least the day on which they are presenting. This facilitates shared learning, which is a key aim of the conference.

Contact us: please email: camhs@northampton.ac.uk

Disability Studies and..., Events and Conferences

Call for Ideas: Gender and Disability: Asking Difficult Questions (10th May 2014, Sheffield, UK)

Announcing Gender and Disability: Asking Difficult Questions

Saturday 10th May 2014, Interdisciplinary Centre of the Social Sciences (ICOSS), University of Sheffield

We’re calling for activists, artists, academics and practitioners to get involved in a day of discussions on the theme of gender and dis/ability. We welcome ideas for the sharing of skills and stories, art, performances, poetry, workshops, round-table discussions, papers and presentations.

The event aims to create a space for conversations and debate between communities who share an interest in gender and disability.

Some ideas for topics/themes:

(Dis)ableism, discrimination, exclusion and (in)accessibility
‘Abnormal’, ‘Normal’ and Normalcy
Activism and protest (disability, feminist, LGBT, ‘race’, queer)
Austerity/welfare cuts
Body image, fetishisation, and the medicalization of bodies and minds
Desire, Sexuality, intimacy and relationships
Freakery, the abject and the politics of disgust
Health and Illness
Identities and identity politics
Life-course and ageing
Mental health and mad pride
Queer and crip histories
Sex, sex educators and sex workers

Send us your ideas (around 200 words or half a page of bullet points) by 24th February 2014 to gender.disability@shef.ac.uk.

This will be a free event. Food will be available to buy at the venue. We want to make this event as accessible as possible, to inform us of any particular access requirements please email gender.disability@shef.ac.uk by 19th April 2014. For further information please contact gender.disability@shef.ac.uk. To book a place please go to: http://genderanddisability.wordpress.com.

Twitter: @GenDisability

An event hosted by the Disability Research Forum, Sheffield Hallam University and the Gender Research Network, University of Sheffield

Please distribute widely! Link to flyer here: Gender And Disability Call for Ideas


Call for papers: Globalising Mental Health or Pathologising the Global South?

Call for Papers

 Disability and the Global South:

An International Journal


 Globalising Mental Health or Pathologising the Global South?

Mapping the Ethics, Theory and Practice of Global Mental Health

 Guest Editors: China Mills and Suman Fernando

Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Movement for Global Mental Health, are calling to ‘scale up’ psychiatric treatments, often specifically access to psychiatric drugs, globally, and particularly within the global South. Amid these calls, others can be heard, from those who have received psychiatric treatments in the global North and South, and from some critical and transcultural psychiatrists, to abolish psychiatric diagnostic systems and to acknowledge the harm caused by some medications. Furthermore, voices have also been raised advocating the need to address social suffering, personal distress and community trauma in the global South in a context of poverty, political violence and natural disasters; and calling for people given psychiatric diagnoses to have their human rights protected by disability legislation.

The Movement for Global Mental Health frames distress as an illness like any other, calling for global equality in access to psychiatric medication. However there is a growing body of research from the global North that documents the harmful effects of long-term use of psychiatric medication and questions the usefulness of psychiatric models (see Angell, 2011; and Whitaker, 2010). This raises concerns; about the ‘evidence base’ of Global Mental Health; about increasing access to psychiatric drugs globally; about the promotion of psychiatric diagnoses such as ‘depression’ as an illness; and changes the terms of debate around equality between the global South and North. What are the ethics of ‘scaling up’ treatments within the global South whose efficacy are still hotly debated within the global North?

There are other concerns about Global Mental Health; that it exports Western ways of being a person and concepts of distress that are alien to many cultures, and imposed from the ‘top down’, potentially repeating colonial and imperial relations (Summerfield, 2008), and that psychiatry discredits and replaces alternative forms of healing that are local, religious or indigenous (Watters, 2010). Alongside this, many users and survivors of the psychiatric system argue for the right to access non-medical and non-Western healing spaces, and to frame their experience as distress and not to depoliticise it as ‘illness’ (PANUSP, 2012). Yet for the pharmaceutical industry – there is a huge financial incentive in both expanding the boundaries of what counts as illness, and expanding across geographical borders into the often ‘untapped’ markets of the global South. This marks a process of psychiatrization, where increasing numbers of people across the globe come to be seen, and to see themselves, as ‘mentally ill’ (Rose, 2006).

This is the context in which this special issue is situated. We would like to invite contributions that are inter-disciplinary and that ground rich conceptual work in ‘on the ground’ practice. We really welcome papers that try to grapple with the complexity and the messiness of debates around Global Mental Health. We hope to explore a range of issues and address some difficult questions, including (but not exclusively);

  •  Issues over access to healthcare and the right to treatment in the global South, and how these debates may be different for mental distress compared to physical illness and disability
  • Critical analysis of the evidence base of Global Mental Health and the ‘treatment gap’ in mental health care between the global South and North
  • Global mental health as a disabling practice
  • Examples of mental health activism and lobbying within the global South as well as resistance
  • Dilemmas and accounts of ‘doing’ mental health work in the global South, notably in contexts of poverty
  • The globalisation of psychiatry; accounts of how psychiatry travels, and of whether counter-approaches to mental health (alternative or indigenous frameworks) may travel too
  • Accounts of alternative ways of understanding health, distress and healing – counter-epistemologies and plural approaches from the global South and North.
  • Issues around colonialism, imperialism and psychiatry, and of possibilities for decolonising psychiatric practises
  • The role of the pharmaceutical industry and its connections with psychiatry – the global production, distribution and marketing of drugs – how drugs travel globally.
  • An exploration of the ethical dimensions of Global Mental Health, and who has the power to set the Global Mental Health agenda.
  • Should wellbeing and distress be addressed by health policy and medical funding, or be understood outside of a medical framework?
  • What are Global Mental Health interventions claiming to ‘treat’?
  • Is there a role for psychiatry within Global Mental Health?
  • Critical approaches to the Movement for Global Mental Health; can and should mental health be global?

We particularly welcome contributions from those who have lived experience of a psychiatric diagnosis, or of distress, and those who work in the global South, or in contents of poverty, on mental health issues. Short reports and stories, are equally encouraged alongside longer theoretical papers. Papers should be no more than 8000 words, with an abstract of 150-200 words.

Those wishing to submit an article or express an interest in contributing, please email China Mills china.t.mills@gmail.com. Manuscripts will be sent anonymously for peer review, and comments and recommendations relayed to authors through the editors. Instructions on formatting for the journal can be found here: http://dgsjournal.org/information-for-authors/

All contributions should be submitted no later than: 21st July 2013

DRF News, Publications

New issue of Review of Disability Studies (8:2) is now available

The new issue, Volume 8 Issue 2, of the Review of Disability Studies is now posted online at www.rds.hawaii.edu.

Articles include:

  • Teacher Educators’ Varied Definitions of Learning Disabilities – Rachael Gabriel (University of Connecticut, USA) and Jessica Lester (Washington State University, USA)
  • Parental Chronic Illness: Current Limitations and Considerations for Future Research  – J.W. (Bill) Anderson (Illinois State University, USA), Caitlin A. Huth (Eastern Illinois University, USA), Susan A. Garcia (Western Governors University, USA) and Jennifer Swezey (Advocate Lutheran Children’s Hospital, USA)
  • Disability Studies and the Language of Mental Illness – Katie Aubrecht (University of Toronto, Canada)
  • Education of Children with Disabilities as Constructed within a Russian Newspaper for Teachers – Maria Oreshkina (University of Scranton, USA), Jessica Lester (Washington State University, USA) and Sharon Judge (Old Dominion University, USA)
  • Conceptualizing the “Dis” of Our Abilities: A Heuristic Phenomenology – Jamie Buffington-Adams (Indiana University, USA)

The new issue also includes Book and Media Reviews (of The Stress of Combat, the Combat of Stress: Changing Strategies towards Ex-Service Men and Women and Historicizing Fat in Anglo-American Culture) as well as Disability Studies Dissertation Abstracts.

DRF News

CFP: ‘Living With Social Categories: Ethnicity, Mental Health, and Learning Disability in An Age Of Austerity’ Conference (June, UK)

Title: Living With Social Categories: Ethnicity, Mental Health, and Learning Disability in An Age Of Austerity

Date: 18th June 2012

Place: The Open University, Milton Keynes

Key Note Speaker: Professor James Nazroo (University of Manchester, UK)

Chair: Professor Richard Jenkins (University of Sheffield, UK)

Brief Description: This one day interdisciplinary conference seeks to re-ignite debates about the lived consequences of the category of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) in statutory services. Using mental health (MH) and Learning Disability (LD) as reference points the conference will explore fresh understandings and theorisations for how BME plays out within the care/control function of the state. Conference organisers acknowledge that ‘Learning Disability’ is contested by advocacy groups; however it is employed here to reflect its use in statutory services. 

The conference is hosted by the Faculty of Health and Social Care (The Open University) and the Race and Ethnicity Study Group (British Sociological Association).

Background: Notwithstanding recent advancements, there remains a disjuncture between theory and praxis in the sociology literature on ethnicity. While it is now accepted that ethnicity is an ontologically unstable category (Alexander 2006), writers arguably over-emphasise ethnicity qua ethnicity at the expense of material and psychic consequences of ethnic categorisations (Carter and Fenton, 2011). However there is long-standing evidence that the category BME has consequences for lived experience in statutory services where the state’s care/control function is thrown into sharp focus. Consequently although less likely to receive welfare services, BMEs are over-represented in the coercive aspects of ‘caring’ services. In MH and LD for instance, some BME groups are less likely to access preventative services but more likely to be detained for involuntary treatment (Mir et al, 2001; Care Quality Commission and National Mental Health Development Unit, 2011). Thus ‘[p]aradoxically, they receive the MH services they don’t want, but not the ones they do or might want’ (Keating and Robertson, 2004, p446). While the applied literature has helpfully evidenced these inequalities, it struggles to satisfactorily operationalise ethnicity to reflect current substantive understandings of fluidity (Nazroo, 2011; Salway et al 2009, 2011). The present age of austerity is likely to exacerbate longstanding inequalities, hence the timely need to refocus on the sociological processes which lead to embodiment of social categories such as BME, MH, and LD.      

We welcome papers from postgraduate and early career researchers that address the following themes:

  • What sociological theories are useful in explaining/could explain the disproportionate representation of BME in MH and LD services?
  • What are the possibilities, limitations and challenges of using ethnic categorisations to describe and explain inequalities in the provision of statutory services? Is an integrative (or intersectional) approach more useful?
  • Interrogating the category of BME: Although widely used in applied studies, BME is rarely explored critically. What is the history of the category; whose interests does it serve?
  • Spaces of care/control: ‘Space’ could be geographical, virtual, material, and mental – how is care/control operationalised; what are the mechanisms?
  • How can the gap between theory and practice be reduced? Is it an issue of dissemination? If so, how can this be bridged?

Deadline for abstract submission: 1st May 2012

BSA members and non-members, please contact Godfred Boahen (g.f.boahen@open.ac.uk) to reserve a place at the conference

DRF News

Second Keynote’s Title and Abstract Announced for Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane: 3rd International Conference (Chester, UK: June 2012)

If you need any further encouragement to attend the Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane: 3rd International Conference at the University of Chester (June 26th-27th 2012), here are details of our second keynote speaker: China Mills, who will be discussing…

Spoof: Faking Normal, Faking Disorder


“[T]he most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed” (Steve Biko, 1978: 92).

How do spoof, ‘fake’ psycho-pharmaceutical adverts work to queer the ‘real’ adverts, and the disorders they market the drugs for? How do they crip conceptions of normality and sanity?

These spoof ads point to a creeping psychiatrization of our everyday lives, a psychiatrization globalised through ‘mental health literacy’ campaigns and psycho-education in low-income countries of the global South. This paper will explore how this psychiatrization interlaces with colonial subject formation. For while pharmaceutical adverts and psychiatry interpellate, hail, ‘make up’, and elicit particular subjects – as pharmaceutical citizens, neurochemical selves; there is also a force at work in ‘making up’ these subjects, through the power of the gaze, that for Frantz Fanon; objectifies, seals, crushes and abrades. But how does medication broker subjectivity? How does it, as the ads claim, restore us to ourselves, make us whole again?

This paper will attend to the visual, to mechanisms of looking, to psychiatric fields of visibility. In India, many mental health Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), go to rural areas to ‘identify’ people with ‘mental illness’, making them visible through diagnostic systems developed in the global North, and medicating them. They say these people are ‘invisible people’. So how do medication and psychiatry make people visible? What ways of ‘seeing’ do they make possible? For Homi Bhabha (1994) invisibility does not signify lack; instead it works to disrupt identification and interpellation through refusing presence. Thus how might these ‘invisible people’, those who refuse to ‘reproduce hegemonic appearances’ (Scott, 1990), work to disrupt the gaze of psychiatry? Might invisibility; the doubling, dissembling image of being in two places at once (Bhabha, 1994), work as both a ‘symptom’ of oppression, and a means of subversion?

To read psychiatrization as a colonial discourse opens up possibilities to explore how the secret arts, the hidden transcripts, of resistance of the colonised might be read in people’s resistance to psychiatry – from the slyness of mimicking normality, to the mockery of ‘spoof’ drug adverts. How the ‘disembodied eyes’ of the subaltern that see but are not seen, might disrupt and subvert both the presumed ‘I’ of the unitary ‘whole’ subject, and the surveillant, penetrative ‘eye’ of psychiatry.

How medication might work to make people visible is more troubling if we read invisibility as camouflage and potential subversion. It suggests that medication might make people more vulnerable in their submission to sociality, in their domestication. But with what conceptual tools can we establish whether being invisible is an act of resistance through camouflage, a strategy solely for survival, or a mark of adaptation and assimilation? Perhaps certain forms of psychiatric ‘looking’ allow us not to ‘see’; enable us to encounter difference and yet defer it, domesticate it– to recuperate the hegemonic, the status quo, in the final look.

In this paper I will explore how spoof adverts may mimic ‘real’ ads in a similar way to how some people mimic normality, slyly; a ‘resemblance and menace’ that mocks the power of the ‘real’ and the ‘sane’, their very power to be a model (Bhabha, 1994:86). Will you be able to tell the difference between the ‘real’ and the ‘fakes’?


China Mills is in the final stages of writing up her PhD thesis, which employs a colonial discourse analysis of Global mental Health’s ‘scale-up’ of psychiatry, and the psychiatrization of India. She is funded by the Education and Social Research Institute, at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. China has worked within, and been allied to, the UK and Indian psychiatric user/survivor movement for some years, and is a member of the editorial collective of Asylum magazine for democratic psychiatry (www.asylumonline.net).

For more information on the conference click here.

DRF News

Details of Next DRF Seminar: 8th February 2012 (1pm-3pm)

DRF Seminar Series: Seminar #4

Date/Time: 8th February 2012 (Weds) 1pm-3pm

Venue: Room 10111 in the Arundel Building, City Campus, Sheffield Hallam University (More information on the venue can be found here.)

  • China Mills (Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University): Globalising Disorder; Crossing Borders through Disorders

Abstract: In an increasingly globalised psycho-pharmacological world, access to psychiatric medication, ‘scaling-up’ of psychiatric services, and closing the ‘treatment gap’ between low and high income countries, are equated with social justice and equality. In this space, mental illness is framed as akin to physical illness; and the argument is made that just as AIDS medications should be available to those in low-income countries, so should psychiatric medications. The incitement of mental health into a discourse of global emergency and crisis suggests an abnormal deviation from a normal order, yet mental illness may also be read as a ‘normal’ reaction to that (dis)order – as a ‘healthy’ response to the ‘unhealthy’ globalisation of Neoliberalism. Yet making the claim that mental health problems, such as Depression, are a ‘normal’ response to inequitable market relations in the global South, may also be normative, as it glosses over a simultaneous globalisation; that of bio-psychiatric explanations of distress. Just as psychiatric diagnostic systems, such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) blur the borders of normality and abnormality, enabling increasing experiences to be conceptualised in psychiatric terms; they also enable psychiatric disorders to cross geographical borders, enabling the psychiatrisation of new populations, and new ‘emergent markets’ for the pharmaceutical industry. For example,in India, in response to a spate of farmer suicides that occurred due to neoliberal agricultural reforms, the Indian Government launched a study to find a genetic cause for suicide, and campaigners called for anti-depressants to be more widely available to farmers. But what does it mean to frame the distress caused by economic reforms as ‘mental illness’, and provide interventions that work at the level of individual brain chemistry and genes, and that are part of the same neoliberal rationale that led to distress in the first place? This paper will explore what the framing of mental illness as akin to physical illness and disability, makes possible within the field of Global Mental Health, with a specific focus on India. 

  • John Quinn (Department of Politics, University of Sheffield): New Labour and Disability Politics

Abstract: When the ‘New’ Labour government came into power in 1997, it was seen by many previously marginalised groups as an opportunity to have more say in the way the country was run. One of these was a ‘new social movement’ calling for disability rights – which arguably only came into existence in Britain during the mid-1970s and had continued developing during 18 years of Conservative rule. However there had been little unity between different strands of this movement, due not only to the wide range of disabilities represented, but also because of disputes over both ends and means. After a Labour government lasting 13 years this research aims to use a variety of methods to see whether it proved lucky or unlucky for disabled people in Britain, seeing to what extent lives have changed and how much of this is due to the way the government and social movement have impacted on and affected each other.

Next Seminar: 15th March 2012 (Thurs) 1.30pm-3.30pm

Slot 9: Sarah Thompson (Department of Education, Childhood and Inclusion, Sheffield Hallam University): Title TBC

Slot 10: Tom Andrews (Department of Education, Childhood and Inclusion, Sheffield Hallam University): Exploring the impact of sexuality on the lifeworld of adolescents with autism