Challenging ideas in mental health
Challenging ideas in mental health

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Challenging ideas in mental health

3 The business of madness

This is a photograph of a pile of money.
Figure 8 Profitable mental health services, the way of the future?

In this section you’ll consider mental health as a business. This is not the way mental health services are usually regarded, as it is more common, at least in the UK, to regard them as public services. However, ideas about being more business-like in health and social care have gained prominence in recent years. What does being a business, or more business-like, mean? For one thing, it implies a profit motive: goods or services delivered to make money for private companies and their shareholders. This is quite controversial when applied to mental health services. There is a tension between mental health services as a business – a growth industry – and as a regulated public service. Caught between the two are the service users/survivors and their families. How are their needs met by the competing forces in the mental health marketplace?

Being a business also suggests the importance of delivering what customers want so that the provider stays in business and flourishes. Further, it means being efficient, systematic and practical. That, at least on the face of it, looks like a very positive attribute for mental health services.

This section takes these three issues – the profit motive, delivering what the customer wants, and efficient, systematic and practical services – as its organising framework. In Section 3.1 you begin to consider the concept of mental health as a business, and in Section 3.2 you focus on the profit motive and the controversial role of pharmaceutical companies. Section 3.3 considers ‘what the customer wants’, and Section 3.4 tackles the question of pharmaceuticals for mental health, and some specific historical examples – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines and the National Service Framework for Mental Health.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371