Cultural safety, diversity and the servicer user and carer movement in mental health research

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Abstract

This study will be of interest to anyone concerned with a critical appraisal of mental health service users' and carers' participation in research collaboration and with the potential of the postcolonial paradigm of cultural safety to contribute to the service user research (SUR) movement. The history and nature of the mental health field and its relationship to colonial processes provokes a consideration of whether cultural safety could focus attention on diversity, power imbalance, cultural dominance and structural inequality, identified as barriers and tensions in SUR. We consider these issues in the context of state-driven approaches towards SUR in planning and evaluation and the concurrent rise of the SUR movement in the UK and Australia, societies with an intimate involvement in processes of colonisation. We consider the principles and motivations underlying cultural safety and SUR in the context of the policy agenda informing SUR. We conclude that while both cultural safety and SUR are underpinned by social constructionism constituting similarities in principles and intent, cultural safety has additional dimensions. Hence, we call on researchers to use the explicitly political and self-reflective process of cultural safety to think about and address issues of diversity, power and social justice in research collaboration.

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