© 2017

Building a New Community Psychology of Mental Health

Spaces, Places, People and Activities


  • Provides a critical analysis of mental health discourse and professional practice

  • Turns critical psychology into practice

  • Breaks down the barriers between 'professional' and 'non-professional' mental health care practices


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Carl Walker, Angie Hart, Paul Hanna
    Pages 1-12
  3. Carl Walker, Angie Hart, Paul Hanna
    Pages 13-42
  4. Carl Walker, Angie Hart, Paul Hanna
    Pages 43-66
  5. Carl Walker, Angie Hart, Paul Hanna
    Pages 67-82
  6. Carl Walker, Angie Hart, Paul Hanna
    Pages 119-133
  7. Carl Walker, Angie Hart, Paul Hanna
    Pages 155-172
  8. Carl Walker, Angie Hart, Paul Hanna
    Pages 173-188
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 189-199

About this book


This book provides a much-needed account of informal community-based approaches to working with mental distress. It starts from the premise that contemporary mainstream psychiatry and psychology struggle to capture how distress results from complex embodied arrays of social experiences that are embedded within specific historical, cultural, political and economic settings. The authors challenge mainstream understandings of mental health that position a naive public in need of mental health literacy. Instead it is clear that a considerable amount of invaluable mental distress work is undertaken in spaces in our communities that are not understood as mental health treatments. This book represents one of the first attempts to position these kinds of spaces at the center of how we understand and address problems of mental distress and suffering. The chapters draw on case studies from the UK and abroad to point toward an exciting new paradigm based on informal community and socially oriented approaches to mental health. Written in an unusually accessible and engaging style, this book will appeal to social science students, academics, practitioners and policy makers interested in community and social approaches to mental health.


Social Work Counselling Community Change Critical Psychology Critical perspectives Care Social care clinical psychology Community Psychology health medicine Mental Health psychology psychopathology psychotherapy social science Informal therapeutic spaces Distress

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.School of Applied Social ScienceUniversity of BrightonBrightonUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.School of Health Sciences and Boingboing Social EnterpriseUniversity of BrightonBrightonUnited Kingdom
  3. 3.School of Hospitality and Tourism ManagementUniversity of SurreySurreyUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Carl Walker is Principle Lecturer in Psychology and course leader for the MA Community Psychology at the University of Brighton, UK.

Angie Hart is Professor of Child, Family and Community Health at the University of Brighton, UK.

Paul Hanna is Chartered Psychologist and Lecturer in Sustainable Tourism at the University of Surrey, UK.

Bibliographic information


“Carl Walker, Angie Hart, and Paul Hanna provide an insightful and at times humorous (Martian visitor) critique of the mental health system in the United Kingdom for people with ‘mental distress’ and ‘misery.’ The authors’ utilization of case studies adds a human face to problems and issues confronting individuals with severe and chronic mental illness. While research based, the authors’ deliberate and engaging writing style would appeal to diverse groups that might include policy makers, practitioners, academics, and students.” (David B. Jones, PsycCRITIQUES, Vol. 62 (51), December, 2017)​