Dangerous liaisons?: The myth of mental illness and risk

RCN Research Society: Winifred Raphael Lecture – A Public lecture for World Mental Health Day.


18.00 – Registration, with stalls and information on mental health nursing and community support
18.30 – Lecture followed by Q&A
20.00 – Drinks reception with further viewing of collection & stands
21.00 – Close

The myth of the mentally ill as dangerous and menacing persists despite evidence to the contrary. Risk assessment is pervasive in mental health practice. This continuing focus on risk, while well intentioned as it is in reducing harm and increasing people’s safety, has a stigmatising, and, in some cases, traumatic effect on people using mental health services; it reinforces the myth that people who are mentally unwell are an inevitable risk to society and that through risk assessment we can minimise or eliminate this threat.

Prof Callaghan will argue that it is the often unquestioned acceptance of the effectiveness of risk assessment and the unconscious bias that emerges from this narrative that poses the biggest risk. People living with mental health issues are frequently marginalised and often live in communities associated with recurrent harm and crime and that promote stigma. By classifying individuals as risky we are giving the stamp of scientific approval to  society’s prejudices and fear.

Professor Patrick Callaghan is Professor of Mental Health Nursing, School of Health Sciences and Professorial Fellow of the Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham.

The talk will be introduced by Karen Medd of Middle Street Resource Centre, and the lecture will be followed by a Q&A and audience discussion. Middle Street Resource Centre was set up as a County Council Mental Health Day Service in the 70s but since 2015 it has been run by an independent charity – Beeston Community Resource CIO – and has expanded its role to include the wider community in Broxtowe and adjoining areas. In addition to the talk, there will be stalls and information in the café area beforehand.

Click here to book your place.

Image: David Beales (Bethlem Gallery). Buy David Beales’ book, The Road to the Asylumonline here.


Posted on 18 June 2016

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