Engaging with communities and precarity theory to bring new perspectives to public mental health

Heather Lynch*, Caroline King

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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In this paper we explore the role of precarity theory in bringing new perspectives to public mental health. The paper draws on a qualitative, participatory research study carried out in Glasgow that illuminates the entangled and complex relations between the social, bio-political, cultural, economic, and environmental conditions that produce mental health and ill health. Through the accounts of Sassy Queen, Tony, Simba, John, and Rhianna, we explore the attrition of everyday lives that are lived in constant states of crisis, the forms of precarity that it precipitates, and how this plays out for them concerning how they talk about and experience ‘mental health’. Their experience provides an alternative vantage point to understanding mental distress to those which are made possible through recourse to prevalent social determinant and behavioural models of public health. The paper concludes that the operations of the political as everyday biopolitics must become more visible within public health, and this requires interdisciplinary and narrative approaches to fully understand the border zone between macro-level politics and the biopolitics of everyday life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)594-603
Number of pages10
JournalCritical Public Health
Issue number5
Early online date17 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2023


  • biopolitics
  • participatory
  • Precarity theory
  • public mental health
  • qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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