‘Not a crisis of chemical imbalance, a crisis of power imbalance’

Involuntary Mental Health Treatment and Critical Social Work


  • Ellie Baldwin BSW University of Sydney


critical social work, involuntary mental health treatment


This paper offers a critical insight into the dominant discourses of involuntary mental health treatment, and the current Australian political context, from a critical social work and post-structural lens. In doing so, it aims to explore the tensions, complexities, and challenges in practice, demonstrating the unique role of social work, and the opportunities for applying the professional values to progress transformative change in mental health policy and practice. As social work is a discipline that is innately bounding to working within structures and systems, there must be critical engagement with the role of social work as ‘helpers and controllers’ (International Federation of Social Workers & International Association of Schools of Social Work, 2004). Through exploring initiatives around the globe where progress is being made with successful outcomes, this paper reinforces the salient role the profession plays in engaging a transformative shift to a world without involuntary treatment.


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