UK mental health policy and practice

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The Mental Health Act 1959 and A Hospital Plan for England and Wales in 1962 set a direction for mental health services away from inpatient and towards outpatient and community care which enjoyed support across the political spectrum. There has been a shift of focus over time from rights and recovery to marketisation, to risk and safety to modernisation and, finally, to well-being. There has been greater coherence in policy and consensus among staff in child and adolescent mental health than its adult counterpart, but service developments were hampered by chronic underfunding. Though, overall, it is probably fair to judge that mental health services in 2010 were both substantially more effective and significantly more humane than those prevailing in 1960, they have not fulfilled the aspirations held widely at the beginning of the period.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMind, State and Society
Subtitle of host publicationSocial History of Psychiatry and Mental Health in Britain 1960–2010
EditorsGeorge Ikkos, Nick Bouras
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781911623793
ISBN (Print)9781911623717
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


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