Mental health care and resistance to fascism

Mckeown, Mick orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0235-1923 and Mercer, D. (2010) Mental health care and resistance to fascism. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 17 (2). pp. 152-161. ISSN 13510126

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Mental health nurses have a critical stake in resisting the right-wing ideology of British fascism. Particularly concerning is the contemporary effort of the British National Party (BNP) to gain credibility and electoral support by the strategic re-packaging of a racist and divisive political manifesto. Evidence that some public sector workers are affiliated with the BNP has relevance for nursing at a series of levels, not least the incompatibility of party membership with a requirement of the Professional Code to avoid discrimination. Progressive advances, though, need to account for deep rooted institutionalized racism in the discourse and practice of healthcare services. The anomalous treatment of black people within mental health services, alongside racial abuse experienced by ethnic minority staff, is discussed in relation to the concept of race as a powerful social category and construction. The murder of the mentally ill and learning disabled in Nazi Germany, as an adjunct of racial genocide, is presented as an extreme example where professional ethics was undermined by dominant political ideology. Finally, the complicity of medical and nursing staff in the state sanctioned, bureaucratic, killing that characterized the Holocaust is revisited in the context of ethical repositioning for contemporary practice and praxis.

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