Ethnic Minorities, Capabilities Approach and Recovery: The Experience of Using Mental Health Services for Chinese People in the UK

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:40
Location: Hörsaal 6B P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Lynn TANG, School of Arts and Humanities, Tung Wah College, Hong Kong
Ethnic inequalities in the use of mental health services need to be understood in the context of psychiatric power (Fernando, 2002; Moodley and Ocampo, 2014). The dominance of bio-medical model as well as state sanctioned coercion intersect with ethnic inequalities to constitute the experience of Black and Ethnic Minoritity communities. This paper reports on a qualitative research that uses Capabilities Approach (CA) as a heuristic framework to explore how mental health services contribute or hinder the personal recovery of Chinese mental health service users in the UK. The first part of the paper discusses how CA can be adapted as a pragmatic entry point for a sociological inquiry into the interplay of structure and agency during mental health service use. Capabilities as substantive freedom comprises of two interactive dimensions: process and exercisable opportunities (Sen, 1999). It can shed light on the extent which an individual can exercise agency during service use and the way structures of control and paternalism shape or limit one’s agency development and the exercise of choice. Then, based on this framework, the paper will illustrate the findings on the Chinese people’s experience of language barrier, receiving a diagnosis, the treatment choice and process as well as hospitalistion. The theoretical and pragmatic potential of CA in the field of critical sociology of mental health will be discussed.