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The 2019 Skellern Lecture and Journal for Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing Award

A Free Public Lecture by Professor Mick McKeown, on 'Making the most of militant and maverick tendencies for mental health nursing'. Attendance for this lecture requires booking via Eventbrite

"Mental health nursing faces a crisis of legitimacy necessitating critically inspired remedies. I draw upon critical social theory, my own work, activism and anecdotes to suggest alternative futures.  In a spirit of persuasion, provocation and poignancy I present workplace democracy, inclusive of workers and service users, as a utopian, yet realisable, means of organising services, capitalising on relational nursing skills; congruent with democratic and dialogic therapy, education and research and aspects of new left populism.
Mental health nurses are susceptible to a deception we always occupy a virtuous occupational role, blinding us to important socio-political actualities.  Not least of these is our complicity within an alienating psy-complex of biomedicine and social control operating under an overarching neoliberal polity and risk society. Democratic aspirations complement a call for a new politics of mental health or a revisiting of some old politics. A case is made for critically engaged academics, practitioners and their trade unions, in alliance with a community, service user and survivor activists, to take these ideas forward in practice, education, research and popular protest. Though defending the Welfare State from neoliberal assaults is a priority, it is, on its own, insufficient. We need to build solidarity relations between mental health stakeholders that can get beyond the hurt and harms of psychiatry as we know it. To these ends, a grass-roots process of truth and reconciliation is advocated."

St George's, University of London, Monckton Lecture Theatre
Cranmer Terrace
SW17 0RE London