Building a new community psychology of mental health: Spaces, places, people and activitiesCarl Walker, Angie Hart, Paul Hanna

This book provides a much-needed account of informal community-based approaches to working with mental distress. We start from the premise that contemporary mainstream psychiatry and psychology struggle to capture how distress results from complex embodied arrays of social experiences that are embedded within specific historical, cultural, political and economic settings. We challenge mainstream understandings of mental health that position a naive public in need of mental health literacy. Instead we explain that it is clear that a considerable amount of invaluable mental distress work is undertaken in spaces in our communities that are not understood as mental health treatments.

This book represents one of the first attempts to position these kinds of spaces at the centre of how we understand and address problems of mental distress and suffering. The chapters draw on case studies from the UK and abroad to point toward an exciting new paradigm based on informal community and socially oriented approaches to mental health.

“In this book, Walker, Hart and Hanna present a refreshing critique of conventional responses to mental distress and argue for a radical shift. Through their examination of six diverse community based interventions they point to ways that community and social based approaches break through the dominant technologies of the biomedical approach by providing safe, compassionate, supportive, ‘helpful’ spaces that enable participants to redefine themselves outside of the boundaries of psy Institutions and celebrate their collective resilience. What is demonstrated in the case studies is how participants are resisting and overcoming oppression at the relational level and achieving well-being through these projects, and that alternative therapeutic relationships can be fostered where solidarity is the technology of change. This is valuable reading for students and an excellent resource for community based professionals.” – Liz Cunningham, President, European Community Psychology Association

“Using a beguiling combination of good humour and serious analysis, the authors make the case firmly for the value of informal community-based practice of mental health care. This is a rich and compelling text which will be of enormous interest to academics, practitioners and service-users alike.” – Steven Brown, Professor, School of Business, University of Leicester, UK

Walker, C., Hart, A., & Hanna, P. (2017). Building a new community psychology of mental health: Spaces, places, people and activities. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


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