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Distress or Disability?
Date: 15-16 November 2011 Time: 12.00 15th Nov - 1.00 16th Nov.
Venue: Conference Centre, Lancaster University
This symposium has been organized jointly by Mental Health in Higher Education, the School of Social Work at the University of Central Lancashire and the Centre for Disability Research at Lancaster University. The symposium is by invitation only and will bring together scholars (including academics, activists and research students) from the north-west of England to explore the issues that arise from trying to situate mental distress within the social model of disability. While there is a long history of thinking, activism and writing about the links between mental health and disability activism, difficulties remain in terms of how they can, and if they should, be brought together. Disability studies developed out of the disabled people's movement, focusing on the relationship disabled people have with society. The social model of disability which has dominated UK disability studies has been primarily concerned with the disadvantages people face because of social responses to impairment. While stigma and disadvantage are also important issues in mental health, critical work in this field tended to focus on re-conceptualising the experience of madness or distress itself its social causes. As a result, activism has usually focused upon the relationship people experiencing distress have with mental health services, professionals and the wider social systems in which they are located. To some extent this is in contrast to disability activism where disability and impairment issues are often distinguished in order to focus on the former. Further, many people experiencing mental distress would reject the label of 'disabled' as it is considered to be stigmatizing, whereas for disabled people this is a reclaimed term that offers a positive identity.
Jill Anderson, Senior Project Development Officer mhhe and Senior Lecturer in Social Work, University of Cumbria
Dr Helen Spandler, Senior Research Fellow in Social Work, University of Central Lancashire
Bob Sapey, Senior Lecturer in Applied Social Science, Lancaster University
Who can attend: Invitation only
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