A new study published in Issues of Mental Health Nursing finds that influential psychiatric nursing textbooks frame mental health nursing as a purely biomedical practice, failing to convey the significant debates in the field over psychological and social factors.
The study used Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), a method used to analyze how language is used in texts to deploy and reinforce power relations and legitimacy, to demonstrate how these texts legitimate psychiatric discourse.
Through presenting the subjectivity of mental health professionals as objective scientific facts, conveying urgency and necessity for psychiatric intervention, and fusing with other scientific and medical disciplines to lend credibility to psychiatry, such discourse can lead to taking this medicalization of professional judgment for granted and devaluing the subjectivity of patients being assessed.
“Mental health discourse has been the site of a lively and contentious transdisciplinary debate, particularly concerning its conceptualization as a concept and subsequent understandings of lived experience in the context of mental health and illness,” the study authors, led by Simon Adam at York University, write.
“Correspondingly, this article examines the current state of mental health discourse in nursing education by focusing on the undergraduate pedagogy of the mental health nursing assessment in Canada.”