Mass Media, ‘Monsters’ and Mental Health Clients: The Need for Increased Lobbying

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A review of the limited empirical and theoretical literature indicates that current mass media representations of mental health service users appear to emphasize violence, dangerousness and criminality. This is despite the empirical evidence that indicates a decline over the last 40 years in the number of homicides carried out by people identified as suffering from mental health problems. Such inappropriate representations do much to increase stigma, ostracism, harassment and victimization of these individuals by the public. Furthermore, it can be argued that there is another repercussion of these representations and that is the subsequent government position/policy and the resulting legislation concerning care of people with mental health problems. Consequently, this paper argues that there is a clear need for psychiatric/mental health (P/MH) nurses to become more mindful of the wider, socio-political environment in which their practice occurs, particularly if psycho-social approaches to practice are adopted in their fullest sense, and as a result increase their political lobby. Such increased lobbying should occur on behalf of, and in collaboration with, service users, and accordingly the authors describe a range of activities under the broad headings of pro-active and reactive lobbying. Furthermore, it is incumbent upon P/MH nurse educationalists to prepare aspirant P/MH nurses for this lobbying role and equip them with the skills necessary to do so.


To acquire a personal use copy of this work, contact John Cutcliffe at john.cutcliffe@wright.edu.



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