Paradoxes of personal responsibility in mental health care

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Publication details

Lakeman, R 2016, 'Paradoxes of personal responsibility in mental health care', Issues in Mental Health Nursing, vol. 37, no. 12, pp. 929-933.

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Personal responsibility is widely considered important in mental health recovery as well as in popular models of alcohol and drug treatment. Neo-liberal socio-political rhetoric around consumerism in health care often assumes that people are informed and responsible for their own choices and behaviour. In the mental health care context and especially in emergency or crisis settings, personal responsibility often raises particular paradoxes. People often present whose behaviour does not conform to the ideals of the responsible consumer; they may seek and/or be granted absolution from irresponsible behaviour. This paradox is explored and clinicians are urged to consider the context-bound nature of personal responsibility and how attributions of personal responsibility may conflict with policy and their own professional responsibilities to intervene to protect others.

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