Approaches to Risk
in Mental Health
A Multidisciplinary Discourse
The discourse on risk in mental health is presently prolific. Most conferences on mental health in English-speaking countries will have sessions on risk avoidance, its assessment and management. Most books on mental health written by English speakers will echo the same emphasis. However, continental European conferences and publications would be unlikely to have such a focus. How come? Do they have less violent incidents? Do they have less violent patients? Or do they take a different approach to the discourse on risk in mental health? Do different mental health disciplines share the same approach to risk? Do users and carers share the same perspective?
Does risk takingplay a part in mental health work and in the lives of users of mental health services? Logically the other side of risk avoidance, risk taking, is hardly mentioned, let alone being given serious consideration and perceived as worthy of being implemented in practice (Furedi, 1997). These are the issues to be looked at in this chapter.
The discourse about risk is far from being conducted solely within the mental health system. It originates at the conceptual level in sociology, where it is closely related to the discourse on modernity and post-modernity freedom and control, citizenship, exclusion and inclusion, health and illness, crime and