Government invading our minds

In: Uncategorized

13 Dec 2009

This week, virtually unnoticed, the British government announced an intervention into the minds of the country’s inhabitants. Although it was pitched as a strategy to deal with mental illness it has implications for the whole of British society although it is particularly aimed at the poor. The official New Horizons website run by the Department of Health quotes Gordon Brown, the prime minister, as saying: “This is about more than preventing mental illness…it is also about helping individuals and communities to bring the best out of themselves”. This trend is also embodied in a recent World Health Organization report on Mental health, resilience, and inequalities (PDF). Catherine Bennett also discusses the broadening of the conception of mental illness in a comment in the Observer but for her the problem is that Brown’s initiative is too timid.

For me this trend represents the redefinition of inequality in therapeutic terms. It gives the government licence to intervene in the most intimate aspects of our lives – even our interior mental world.