Morgan Carpenter: Diversity & power in mental health services, addressing structural violence

The Mental Health Services Conference

Morgan Carpenter spoke at The Mental Health Services Conference in Perth this August, as part of an intersectional symposium entitled Diversity & power in mental health services, Addressing structural violence.

The conference is the largest and longest running multidisciplinary mental health conference in Australasia:

TheMHS Conference attracts over 1000 mental health clinicians, managers, consumers, carers/families, researchers, cultural and indigenous workers, educators and policy makers annually.

Participants invited to the symposium discussion were:

  • Kelly Briggs, Gamilaroi (Indigenous) writer living in rural New South Wales. Twitter @TheKooriWoman: Structural violence at the intersection of mental health & colonisation.
  • Cath Roper, consumer academic at the Centre for Psychiatrict Nursing in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne: Structural violence at the intersection of mental health & human rights abuses.
  • Fayez Nour, Consumer Trustee of the NSW Consumer Advisory Group – Mental Health Inc and a mental health clinician: Structural violence at the intersection of mental health & racism
  • Morgan Carpenter, President of Organisation Intersex International Australia: Structural violence at the intersection of mental health & intersex status.
  • Sam Brhaspati Stott, consumer and Policy Officer with the NSW Consumer Advisory Group – Mental Health Inc. Twitter @brhaspati108

Morgan’s presentation is available to read online.

According to the National Framework for Recovery-Oriented Mental Health Services (2013), “recovery occurs within a web of relations including the individual, family and community, and is contextualised by culture, privilege or oppression, history and the social determinants of health”.

The National Framework’s practice capabilities for recovery-oriented services include:

  • Responsive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Responsive to people from immigrant and refugee backgrounds
  • Responsive to gender, age, culture, spirituality and other diversity
  • Responsive to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people
  • Supporting social inclusion and advocacy on social determinants
  • Challenging stigmatising attitudes and discrimination

In Australia, it is recognised that a diversity of people will interact with mental health services at some point in their lifetime. To date, however, this recognition has not resulted in mental health services meaningfully and respectfully responding to that diversity. Services engage with consumers as if we are a homogenous group who mirror the social positioning of the majority of mental health service providers.

Applying the lens of structural violence, this consumer-led symposium will identify and analyse the power relations between mental health providers and consumers, particularly with respect to their lived experiences of systemic privilege and oppression across the domains of sex, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, language, class and ability. Each presenter will examine how mental illness intersects with one or more of these domains. In doing so, the presenters will highlight the impact of social, political and cultural power imbalances on Australian mental health services’ engagement with diversity.

More information

Read Morgan’s presentation.

Visit the conference website