Contested identities: exploring the relationship between the user/survivor movement and feminism in the mental health sphere
May 18th 2007 ~ The afternoon of the (Not very far) Away Day
The women’s movement and the user/survivor movement have been significant forces within the recent politics of mental health and mental health services in Britain. This paper examines the relationship between these two social movements, which has been marked by both convergence and contestation, in the context of the wider mental health policy arena. It describes points of overlap in the philosophies, aims, strategies and organizing of the movements, as well as the points at which they have been brought into opposition. It considers the success of the two movements in managing to influence societal understandings of mental distress and mental health service provision, and the ways in which the user/survivor movement is currently coming to redefine itself and its demands through re-engaging with matters of social inequality, including gender. The implications of this realignment for future success, particularly with respect to the movement’s aim of achieving more ‘socially oriented’ mental health services, are considered. Finally, the potential for furthering this aim through greater coalition between the user/survivor and women’s movements is discussed.