Post-print of: Holdsworth, L, Sweeney, D & Pollard, D 2004, 'Welfare, neo-liberalism, and the tough business of being a consumer', Australasian Journal of Business and Social Inquiry, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 18-28.
In this article we are primarily concerned with the disparity between the ‘mentalhealth consumer’ label which carries implications of consumer power and consumerrights, and the reality underlying consumerist societies which presupposes a level of choice and spending power. The consumer label, while attempting to free the patient/client from an unequal relationship to her or his doctor or health care worker,has merely traded one inequity for another. For persons with a chronic mental illnesswho are either unemployed and/or welfare dependent, the consumer label haspotentially negative consequences. Not only does it fail to address the sometimes involuntary nature of mental healthcare, but within the current political climate, the neo-liberalist user-pays philosophy is imposed onto a group whose spending power and freedom of choice is already heavily compromised.