Engaging with transformative paradigms in mental health
journal contributionposted on 20.09.2021, 04:05 by L Whitaker, Fiona SmithFiona Smith, Catherine MinshallCatherine Minshall, M Petrakis, Lisa BrophyLisa Brophy
When graduates of Australian social work courses embark on a career in mental health, the systems they enter are complex, fragmented and evolving. Emerging practitioners will commonly be confronted by the loneliness, social exclusion, poverty and prejudice experienced by people living with mental distress; however, social work practice may not be focused on these factors. Instead, in accordance with the dominant biomedical perspective, symptom and risk management may predominate. Frustration with the limitations evident in this approach has seen the United Nations call for the transformation of mental health service delivery. Recognising paradigmatic influences on mental health social work may lead to a more considered enactment of person centred, recovery and rights-based approaches. This paper compares and contrasts influences of neo-liberalism, critical theory, human rights and post-structuralism on mental health social work practice. In preparing social work practitioners to recognise the influence of, and work more creatively with, intersecting paradigms, social work educators strive to foster a transformative approach to mental health practice that straddles discourses.