Book Review

Closing Asylums for the Mentally Ill: Social Consequences

Dianne Wynaden
Professor of Mental Health, School of Nursing and Midwifery/Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, WA

Globally, deinstitutionalisation or the movement of psychiatric patients from mental institutions to the community was justified on the basis of the treatment, confinement, living conditions and human rights violations that occurred within these institutions. In Australia, decades after the deinstitutionalisation process commenced the integration of mental health services into the general health care system along with the ability of community mental health care to empower consumers and provide them with social engagement, access to resources and effective care is under increasing scrutiny.

Closing Asylums for the Mentally Ill: Social Consequences is a welcome addition to the mental health literature. It will prove to be a useful text and tutorial reader for students, graduates and clinicians as it provides an up to date detailed knowledge and understanding of the numerous and complex issues surrounding the delivery of mental health care in Australia. The articles in this special issue of Health Sociology Review pose challenges and will clearly facilitate reflection and critical analysis. Each article includes an abstract, a list of key words and references that add further value for the reader.

This book is important for several reasons. It provides valuable historical data about the deinstitutionalisation movement in Australia. The work also evaluates the outcomes of the movement of mental health care into the community examining the social consequences for the consumer, their family and the community. Dr Sev Ozdowski OAM, the Australian Human Rights Commissioner and Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has written the Foreword for this edition, presenting a valuable insight into the 'Not for Service: Experiences of injustice and despair in mental health care in Australia' report released in 2005. The major theme of this report is that little has changed since the National Inquiry into the Human Rights of People with a mental illness by Commissioner Burdekin in 1993. Commissioner Ozdowski reiterates the concerns of many, that the Australian Governments need to place mental health issues on the political agenda and action significant changes in service delivery.

Other papers in this book discuss the silence of professionals in relation to the social implications of asylum closure in Australia and the major implications of this social change on consumers, their families and the community. An evaluation of the impact of mental health policy during the era of deinstitutionalisation is also included. A review of global issues on mental health reform, citizenship and human rights highlights common issues in mental health care. An evaluation of Australian mental health policy and the impact of deinstitutionalisation on the Victorian health system from 1993-1998 are included. The reader is able to develop an understanding of the changes in care between the asylum and the community and develop an insight into everyday life following hospitalisation for the consumer.

In conclusion, this special issue of Health Sociology Review is exciting and adds to the knowledge and understanding of mental health policy, reform and service delivery in Australia. Commissioner Ozdowski commends the publisher for releasing the special issue as a book (ISBN 0-9757422-1-3) for wider dissemination. The work will contribute significantly to the educational preparation of health professionals providing them with an insightful understanding of the social consequences of government policies over several decades on mental health care.

Sign Me Up for latest release updates

*  Email Address:
    First Name:
    Last Name:
*  I am interested in:


Web Feed

Latest Articles

Special Issues

Longevity: Sociological perspectives on health, illness and service provision
Volume 23/1
Summary | Contents

Lifestyle Science: Self-healing, Co-production and DIY
Volume 22/1
Summary | Contents

Culture, Death and Dying with Dignity
Volume 21/4
Summary | Contents

Transformations in Health Care: Privatisation, Corporatisation and the Market
Volume 20/3
Summary | Contents

Mental Health and Illness: Practice and Service Issues
Volume 20/2
Summary | Contents

Men's Health
Volume 19/4
Summary | Contents

Food, ethics and identity
Volume 19/3
Summary | Contents

Sociology, Recreational Drugs and Alcohol
Volume 19/2
Summary | Contents

Ageing, Anti-ageing and Globalization: Transitions and limits in the governance of ageing
Volume 18/4
Summary | Contents

Expert Patient Policy
Volume 18/2
Summary | Contents

Social Determinants of Child Health and Wellbeing
Volume 18/1
Summary | Contents

Integrative, Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Challenges for Biomedicine?
Volume 17/4
Summary | Contents

Community, Family, Citizenship and the Health of LGBTIQ People
Volume 17/3
Summary | Contents

Re-imagining Preventive Health: Theoretical Perspectives
Volume 17/2
Summary | Contents

Death, Dying and Loss in the 21st Century
Volume 16/5
Summary | Contents

Social Equity and Health
Volume 16/2
Summary | Contents

Medical Dominance Revisited
Volume 15/5
Summary | Contents

Childbirth, Politics and the Culture of Risk
Volume 15/4
Summary | Contents

Revisiting Sexualities and Health: Contributions from Sociological Insights
Volume 15/3
Summary | Contents

Closing Asylums for the Mentally Ill: Social Consequences
Volume 14/3
Summary | Contents

Workplace Health: The Injuries of Neoliberalism
Volume 14/1
Summary | Contents

Rural Health Symposium: Patients and Practitioners
Volume 13/2
Summary | Contents

Symposium on Women's Health
Volume 13/1
Summary | Contents

Symposium on Women's Health: Breast Health - Health and Ageing
Volume 12/2
Summary | Contents

Symposium on Indigenous Health and the Contribution of Sociology
Volume 10/2
Summary | Contents

Research Funding
Volume /

Research Methodology: Theory and Practice
Volume /

Reconstructing Health Knowledge
Volume / - The citation linking backbone

Website by Fig Creative Sunshine Coast Website Design