The state's mental health power is standardly understood in terms of the state's power to intervene with persons or populations to address mental health problems. This article advances a more expansive view of the state's mental health power, one which seeks to capture those exercises of state power that do not directly concern mental health but that nevertheless can have a profound effect on mental well-being. The article considers two features of contemporary American society that implicate the state in conditions that undermine, or threaten to undermine, mental health. The first concerns the impact of poverty and inequality on mental health. The second concerns the threat to the self posed by measures that would significantly erode privacy. The article argues that a greater commitment to liberal principles of equality and tolerance is crucial to overcoming the perils for mental health that poverty and losses of privacy generate.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Psychiatry and Mental health