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Dangerous liaisons? The myth of mental illness and risk

RCN Research Society Winifred Raphael public lecture - an event for World Mental Health Day.

The myth of the mentally ill as dangerous and menacing persists despite evidence to the contrary.

Risk assessment is pervasive in mental health practice. This continuing focus on risk, while well-intentioned as it is in reducing harm and increasing people’s safety, has a stigmatising and, in some cases, traumatic effect on people using mental health services; it reinforces the myth that people who are mentally unwell are an inevitable risk to society and that through risk assessment we can minimise or eliminate this threat.

Professor Patrick Callaghan (Professor of Mental Health Nursing, School of Health Sciences and Professorial Fellow of the Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham) will argue that it is the often unquestioned acceptance of the effectiveness of risk assessment and the unconscious bias that emerges from this narrative that poses the biggest risk.

People living with mental health issues are frequently marginalised and often live in communities associated with recurrent harm and crime and that promote stigma. By classifying individuals as risky, we are giving the stamp of scientific approval to society’s prejudices and fear.

The talk will be introduced by Karen Medd of Middle Street Resource Centre, which was set up as a County Council Mental Health Day Service in the 1970s - since 2015, the Centre has been run by an independent charity - Beeston Community Resource CIO - and has expanded its role to include the wider community in Broxtowe and adjoining areas.

The lecture will be followed by a Q&A and audience discussion.

In addition to the talk, we’ll have stalls and information in the café area beforehand.

You can book your place via Eventbrite here.

Find out more about the Royal College of Nursing centenary at www.rcn.org.uk/centenary.


18.00 – Registration, with stalls and information on mental health nursing and community support

18.30 – Lecture followed by Q&A

20.00 – Drinks reception with further viewing of collection & stands

21.00 – Close


Professor Patrick Callaghan | talks
Karen Medd | talks


Date and Time:

10 October 2016 at 6:00 pm


2 hours



Nottingham Contemporary
Weekday Cross

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Organised by:

Royal College of Nursing
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