Heyman, Bob (2004) Risk and mental health. Health, Risk and Society, 6 (4). pp. 297-301. ISSN 1369-8575

This editorial reflects on an emerging body of mental health care research which draws on the social science of risk, and introduces a collection of papers presented in a special edition of the journal Health, Risk & Society on risk and mental health. The trend in research outputs concerned with risk and mental health is documented through a quantitative analysis of cited research literature for the period 1993 - 2004. It is argued that the underpinning concepts of mental health, now labelled mental/personality disorder, and risk are both problematic. Completed work falls roughly into two categories, oriented primarily either towards service development or critical deconstruction. The special edition papers of Mcguire and Ryan illustrate the former trend in distinctive ways, making a critical but supportive case for the actuarial approach to risk assessment and for the no-fault approach to risk management respectively. The other papers offer insights into the needs of service users and critical analyses of existing provision. They illuminate three overlapping themes: unreflective risk selectivity; the role of the beholder in liminal or marginal diagnostic classification; and the complexities of mental health care risk management.

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