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Work and the Mental Health Crisis in Britain

ISBN: 978-0-470-69977-5
196 pages
September 2011
Work and the Mental Health Crisis in Britain (0470699779) cover image


Based on recent data gathered from employees and managers, Work and the Mental Health Crisis in Britain challenges the cultural maxim that work benefits people with mental health difficulties, and illustrates how particular cultures and perceptions can contribute to a crisis of mental well-being at work.
  • Based on totally new data gathered from employees and managers in the UK
  • Presents a challenge to much of the conventional wisdom surrounding work and mental health
  • Questions the fundamental and largely accepted cultural maxim that work is unquestionably good for people with mental health difficulties
  • Illustrates how particular cultures of work or perceptions of the experience of work contribute to a crisis of mental well-being at work
  • Fills a need for an up-to-date, detailed work that explores the ways that mental health and work experiences are constructed, negotiated, constrained and at times, marginalised
  • Written in a style that is detailed and informative for academics and professionals who work in the mental health sphere, but also accessible to interested lay readers
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Table of Contents

About the Contributors ix

Acknowledgements xi

Chapter 1 Introduction: Mental Health, Emotional

Well-Being and 21st Century Work 1

Chapter 2 Getting Britain Back to Work: A Policy Perspective 11

Chapter 3 Mental Health and Work-Experiences of Work
Ben Fincham, Carl Walker with Holly Easlick 39

Chapter 4 Techniques of Identity Governance and Resistance:

Formulating the Neoliberal Worker
Carl Walker, Ben Fincham with Josh Cameron 67

Chapter 5 Managing Mental Health in Organizations 97

Chapter 6 Work/Life Balance and the Individualized

Responsibility of the Neoliberal Worker 133

Chapter 7 Concluding Thoughts: Neoliberalism and the Shrine of Work 147

References 163

Index 179

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Author Information

Carl Walker is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Brighton. His research and teaching interests include social inequality and mental distress, cultural representations of mental health, and critical community approaches to psychology. He is course leader for the MA in Community Psychology and is currently engaged in work around employment, personal debt and mental distress. His previous publications include Depression and Globalisation (2007).

Ben Fincham is a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Sussex. He has been involved with developing projects on 'mobilities' and qualitative approaches to studying work in unstable employment environments, and his current research focuses on the complex relationship between work and mental health. He is co-author of Mobile Methodologies (2010).

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"While this book is designed for academics and professionals who work in the mental health sphere, it is so well written and so clearly sincere that it makes it extremely accessible to anyone with a general interest in the subject." (RoSPA Occupational Safety & Health Journal, 10 February 2012)

With the costs of mental ill health and stress in the workplace estimated at nearly £27m per annum in terms of sickness absence and presenteeism, work, health and wellbeing has become a major business issue. The Foresight Report on Mental Capital and Wellbeing (Cooper et al  [2009], Wiley-Blackwell) and Dame Carol Black’s work and health report, have both emphasized what this excellent and timely book is arguing: that working people are suffering and something needs to be done.
—Cary L. Cooper, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health, Lancaster University Management School, UK

Set in the context of a critique of neo liberal political economy, this book should be read by all those who hold up work as a means to improved well-being, without due regard to what kind of work is available to those for whom it is prescribed.
—Theo Nichols, Distinguished Research Professor, Cardiff University, UK

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