© 2016

The Palgrave Handbook of Adult Mental Health

Discourse and Conversation Studies

  • Michelle O’Reilly
  • Jessica Nina Lester

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xlvi
  2. Introduction: The Social Construction of Normality and Pathology

    1. Michelle O’Reilly, Jessica Nina Lester
      Pages 1-19
  3. Reconceptualising Mental Health and Illness

  4. Naming, Labelling, and Diagnosing

About this book


This Handbook gathers together empirical and theoretical chapters from leading scholars and clinicians to examine the broad issue of adult mental health. The contributors draw upon data from a variety of contexts to illustrate the multiple ways in which language as action can assist us in better understanding the discursive practices that surround adult mental health. Conversation and discourse analysis are useful, related approaches for the study of mental health conditions, particularly when underpinned by a social constructionist framework. In the field of mental health, the use of these two approaches is growing, with emergent implications for adults with mental health conditions, their practitioners, and/or their families.

Divided into four parts; Reconceptualising Mental Health and Illness; Naming, Labelling and Diagnosing; The Discursive Practice of Psychiatry; and Therapy and Interventions; this Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of current debates regarding adult mental health.


mental health discourse language linguistics discourse analysis conversation analysis social constructionism critical approaches alcohol attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) autism autism spectrum disorder counseling diagnosis Exploration interaction intervention interview online psychiatry psychotherapy suicide Therapeut

Editors and affiliations

  • Michelle O’Reilly
    • 1
  • Jessica Nina Lester
    • 2
  1. 1.University of LeicesterUK
  2. 2.Indiana UniversityUSA

About the editors

Michelle O'Reilly is Senior Lecturer at the University of Leicester, Greenwood Institute of Child Health, UK. She specialises in discourse and conversation analysis of child mental health interactions. Michelle has a particular interest in childhood autism and has published books and papers in both mental health and autism.

Jessica Nina Lester is Assistant Professor at Indiana University, Bloomington, USA. She teaches research methods courses, including discourse analysis. Her research is focused on the study and development of qualitative methodologies, with much of her work positioned at the intersection of discourse studies and disability studies.

Bibliographic information


“The 700 plus page handbook is a well-organised, easy to navigate and relevant guide. … This is an excellent addition to the handbook, acting as an abstract for the chapter as well as addressing the clear implications of the research. … As someone with a qualitative background but with a limited understanding of conversation analysis, this handbook was a good exposure to the variety of uses of discourse and conversation analysis in the field of mental health.” (Lucas Shelemy, The Journal of Critical Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy, Vol 18 (2), June, 2018)