Explaining mental health recovery in the context of structural disadvantage: the unrealised potential of critical realism

Karadzhov, D. (2021) Explaining mental health recovery in the context of structural disadvantage: the unrealised potential of critical realism. Social Theory and Health, 19(2), pp. 172-185. (doi: 10.1057/s41285-019-00122-z)

[img] Text
227915.pdf - Accepted Version



Despite the acknowledgement that mental health inequalities are shaped by the interaction of macro-level (structural) and micro-level (individual, agentic) powers, dominant paradigms in mental health research have been ill-equipped to integrate those different levels of influence theoretically and empirically. As a result, an explanatory ‘deficit’ persists as to the causal mechanisms underpinning the impact of social inequalities on mental well-being, particularly mental health recovery. To redress this gap, critical realism has been put forward as a useful metatheoretical alternative. This paper begins by offering a succinct critique of extant mental health recovery research. Mental health recovery is problematised in relation to its dynamic embeddedness in contextual, including macro-structural, conditions. The core tenets and principles of critical realism are then invoked to address the identified philosophical and theoretical inadequacies. This paper argues that critical realism offers promise for explaining how inequality-generating mechanisms, such as social exclusion, may impede recovery. The analytico-conceptual potential of critical realism has remained largely untapped by the extant mental health scholarship. Critical realism offers a holistic and inclusive set of conceptual tools to re-examine the structure–agency nexus in order to advance mental health recovery and inequalities research, and an equity-based policy agenda.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Karadzhov, Dr Dimitar
Authors: Karadzhov, D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Social Theory and Health
ISSN (Online):1477-822X
Published Online:13 November 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Springer Nature Limited
First Published:First published in Social Theory and Health 19(2): 172-185
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record