IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Where the wicked problems are: The case of mental health

Listed author(s):
  • Hannigan, Ben
  • Coffey, Michael
Registered author(s):

    Objective To use system ideas and the concept of 'wicked problems' to frame examination of a decade-and-a-half of UK mental health policy.Methods Theoretically informed policy analysis.Results Modern health care is complex, and mental health care particularly so. In the UK the mental health system has also become a policymaking priority. Features of this system mean that many of the problems policymakers face are of the 'wicked' variety. Wicked problems are resistant. Problem formulations and their solutions are contestable. Solutions which have 'worked' in one setting may not 'work' in another, and evidence to guide change is open to challenge. Actions trigger waves with widespread system consequences. In the case of the UK's mental health field significant shifts have taken place in formulations of 'the problem' to which actions have been directed. These have included assessments of community care failure, formulations emphasising problems with the professions and, most recently, the need for action to promote mental health and wellbeing.Conclusions In their efforts to secure improvement in a neglected field UK policymakers have unleashed a torrent of top-down actions. Attention needs to be paid to constructing strong, system-wide, partnerships and to examining the cumulative impact of policy actions.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Health Policy.

    Volume (Year): 101 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 3 (August)
    Pages: 220-227

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:hepoli:v:101:y:2011:i:3:p:220-227
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Kelly, Brendan D., 2005. "Structural violence and schizophrenia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 721-730, August.
    2. Casiday, Rachel Elizabeth, 2007. "Children's health and the social theory of risk: Insights from the British measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) controversy," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(5), pages 1059-1070, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:hepoli:v:101:y:2011:i:3:p:220-227. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

    or ()

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.