Community Care and the Location and Governance of Risk in Mental Health

Joanne Warner


The concept of risk is now central to all areas of health and social welfare in the UK, although its exact character in relation to different groups varies. It has been argued that risk in mental health has been characterised by a preoccupation with the perceived risk of violence to others posed by those experiencing mental distress, particularly since the implementation of community care policies in the 1990s. The present paper draws on qualitative materials from semi-structured interviews with thirty-nine mental health social workers to demonstrate the significance for policy and practice of identifying where professionals see risk as being located. In the present study, three key sites were identified: firstly, risk was located in dangerous individuals, where the concept "high-risk" was particularly closely identified with young Black men with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Secondly, social workers located risk in within-subject entities such as active psychotic illness, when it was the symptom rather than the whole individual that was subject to surveillance and control. Thirdly, social workers located risk in social context and regarded risk in multidimensional ways compared to their psychiatric colleagues. The paper highlights how a theory of risk location can be a useful conceptual tool.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0601310


percepción del riesgo; energía del hidrógeno; tecnología emergente; compromiso público; actitudes públicas; confianza; incertidumbre

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Copyright (c) 2006 Joanne Warner

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