Public Promotion and Mental health Policy in Saskatchewan, 1920-1975
Andre, Glenn H
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Most policy literature, particularly much recent material on the sociology of psychiatry, tends to gloss over significant questions surrounding public opinion and public demand. Specifically, what are the origins of public support for social policy initiatives and how are publics introduced and habituated to new service forms that arise with changes to social policy? These questions are the object of an investigation into the role of the psychiatric professions in generating political support and consumptive demand for services attendant with the transformation of psychiatric services into its present community mental health modality. This transformation entailed the medicalization of psychiatric work and an extemalization of the locus of service provision. Psychiatry, formerly an administrative specialty that was centered in custodial asylums, was converted into a range of community services based on a medical model that promised to deliver prevention of mental disorders. This transformation was a dual process that involved changes not only to service provision but also service consumption and thus required an overall social reconstitution of insanity into medical categories--termed collectively, mental illness. Evidence from approximately 600 articles reported in major Saskatchewan newspapers illustrates that the Canadian Mental Health Association functioned as a primary vehicle for the promotion of a psychiatric worldview in the public forum. It shows the important role these professions played in attempting to generate and shape public opinion to achieve their goals.