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J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2008 Oct;15(8):615-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2008.01276.x.

People with mental disabilities negotiating life in the risk society: a theoretical approach.

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Faculty of Health and Sports, Hedmark University College, Elverum, Norway.


Risk assessment and risk management owing to the potential threat from people with serious mental disorders living in the local community have been given much attention in psychiatric and mental healthcare research. Research connected to risks associated with living in the community for people with mental disabilities has also been published. This paper focuses on the situation of people with mental health problems and disabilities from a quite different perspective. In the light of the societal change towards what has been named the 'risk society', the consequences for vulnerable groups, especially people with mental disabilities, are discussed. Furthermore, the purpose is to shed light on how structural factors, like the process of individualization and 'de-population' of societal institutions, are affecting the living conditions for people with mental disabilities - positively as well as negatively. The importance of trust in the risk society is highlighted, but also the important role that the local community might play in relation to people with mental disabilities. Finally, some potentialities and new roles that this development towards a risk society and increased individualization paradoxically can open up for people with mental disabilities are outlined.

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