'Problematising' Australian policy representations in responses to the physical health of people with mental health disorders

Julie Henderson, Jeffrey Fuller

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    7 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Australia, like other jurisdictions, is recognising the poorer physical health of people with mental health disorders. This paper explores policy responses to this issue through discourse analysis of 22 Australian Federal and State government policy documents published in 2006-2011. The paper utilises Bacchi's 'what's the problem represented to be?' approach to explore policy solutions in relation to the representation of the issue, enabling identification of issues which are not problematised and policy solutions that have not been considered. The poor physical health of people with mental health disorders is attributed in policy to poor lifestyle habits and limited access to monitoring of physical health care. Three policy solutions are offered: collaborative care delivery involving greater use of fee-for-service primary care to manage physical health; the monitoring of physical health status by mental health teams; and the promotion of lifestyle change. These solutions fail to address ongoing issues with collaboration between specialist mental health and primary care services. Reliance upon fee-for-service primary mental health care may, in fact, reduce rather than increase access to services. The strategies are discussed in light of neoliberal ideals of governance and personhood which are underpinned by informed consumer choice and personal responsibility for health.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)183-203
    Number of pages21
    JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
    Volume46
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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