The rise of the service user: Are some service users more equal than others?




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Lawrence and Wishart



Peer reviewed


Our authorship of this article reflects our standpoints as a long term service user with bipolar disorder (SB), her carer (BB) and a social work practitioner turned educator (HG). During the course of SB's struggle with complex and enduring mental health needs, both BB and SB became social scientists who are now working in UK universities. Our experience reflects our engagement with a diverse range of institutions and styles of delivery, including hospital, community and primary care. Most of our experience has been in North Wales, and the events reported in this article reflect the historical progression of services there over the past three decades as a greater emphasis has been placed upon service user involvement and consultation. Our ongoing interest in this topic has led to our discovery of many more accounts from other parts of the UK, so the experiences reported here have a broader resonance with the provision of mental health care elsewhere and a! spects of what we witnessed have also emerged from inquiries into a number of high profile tragedies in the sectors.



mental health, service users, health service, emancapation, power


Baker, S., Gwilym, H. and Brown, B. J. (2008) The rise of the service user: Are some service users more equal than others? Soundings, 40. pp. 18-28.


Research Institute

Institute of Health, Health Policy and Social Care
Mary Seacole Research Centre