Voices of mental health

Research by Professor Martin Halliwell has broken new ground in deepening our understanding of the history and politics of mental health.

The Professor of American Studies and Head of the School of Arts has published a major new book to coincide with World Mental Health Day: Voices of Mental Health, Medicine, Politics, and American Culture, 1970–2000.

Examining mental health in the United States in the late twentieth century, the book interweaves three stories: the rising political prominence of mental health since 1970; shifting medical diagnostics at a time when activists, advocacy groups, and public figures were speaking out about the needs and rights of patients; and the concept of voice in literature, film, memoir, journalism, and medical case study that connects the health experiences of individuals to shared stories.

He said: “I am thrilled to publish this second volume of a trilogy with Rutgers University Press that together will chart a cultural history of mental health from World War II to the present. Whereas the first volume, Therapeutic Revolutions, analysed therapeutic practices from the mid-1940s to the end of the 1960s, Voices of Mental Health looks at a thirty-year period, spanning the Nixon and Clinton presidencies, when mental health became heavily politicized – a period that set in train social and cultural trends that are playing out in the United States today.”

To complete this trilogy, Professor Halliwell is beginning work on the third volume that examines the relationship between biotechnology and mental health during the period we are currently living through.

The publication of the book also coincides with a significant new report, Exploring Mental Health and Wellbeing, published by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) that highlights the important role that arts and humanities based research can play in helping to address complex issues around mental health.