Recovery, Mental Health and Inequality: Chinese Ethnic Minorities as Mental Health Service Users, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Recovery, Mental Health and Inequality

Chinese Ethnic Minorities as Mental Health Service Users, 1st Edition

By Lynn Tang


186 pages

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Mental health has long been perceived as a taboo subject in the UK, so much so that mental health services have been marginalised within health and social care. There is even more serious neglect of the specific issues faced by different ethnic minorities.

This book uses the rich narratives of the recovery journeys of Chinese mental health service users in the UK – a perceived ‘hard-to-reach group’ and largely invisible in mental health literature – to illustrate the myriad ways that social inequalities such as class, ethnicity and gender contribute to service users' distress and mental ill-health, as well as shape their subsequent recovery journeys.

Recovery, Mental Health and Inequality contributes to the debate about the implementation of ‘recovery approach’ in mental health services and demonstrates the importance of tackling structural inequalities in facilitating meaningful recovery. This timely book would benefit practitioners and students in various fields, such as nurses, social workers and mental health postgraduate trainees.


'Once mainstreamed, emancipatory projects are easily declawed and neutered. Recovery is no exception. Restoring its critical bite and promise is part of what Recovery, Mental Health and Inequality is about. Smartly theorized, rigorously executed, personally grounded and pragmatically focused on real-life contingencies of psychiatric crisis, help seeking and recovery, this is a terrific book. For one thing, terms like "intersectionality" and "capabilities" too often make scholarly entrance as ritual tributes; in Lynn Tang’s hands, they come alive as interrogatory devices, directing inquiry and organizing findings. Time receives its proper appreciation as a factor in rebuilding a life, without undermining or eclipsing the importance of social location. And animating her account throughout is the conviction that the answer to extended social suffering is not compassion but justice.' Kim Hopper, Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, USA

'This outstanding book raises important issues for those interested in mental health and the impact of services on wellbeing. Drawing on the compelling narratives of men and women who have experienced mental distress it explores the personal, interpersonal and social dimensions of recovery. This book is a must for people working for change as practitioners in the field as well as policy makers and social scientists.' Ann Davis, Emeritus Professor in Social Work and Mental Health, University of Birmingham, UK

'A highly original book that provides a valuable glimpse into the world of Chinese mental health service users in the UK. Lynn Tang successfully combines sociological rigour and personal reflections in telling their recovery stories. The contribution of the book is beyond the UK. The insights and critiques that Tang has raised will be of interest to academics, policy-makers and practitioners who are committed to transforming mental health services to support the recovery of service users.' Daniel Fu-Keung Wong, Professor, Department of Social Work and Social Administration, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. What recovery? Whose recovery? Recovery as a disputed approach

Chapter 2. Exploring social inequalities with the Capabilities Approach and Intersectionality Analysis

Chapter 3. When things start to fall apart: social conditions and the loss of capabilities

Chapter 4. Becoming a psychiatric patient

Chapter 5. Life after shipwreck: social conditions for capabilities (re)development

Chapter 6. Stubbornly strive to be human: meanings of recovery, hope and adaptive preferences

Chapter 7. Social conditions for recovery: Towards a social justice agenda

Methodological epilogue. Developing the service user knowledge of Chinese communities

About the Author

Lynn Tang is Assistant Professor (Research) at The Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, The University of Hong Kong.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in the Sociology of Health and Illness

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Health Care Delivery
MEDICAL / Mental Health
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General