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What role should US psychiatric categories play in Australian mental health?

A UTS Faculty of Law Health Justice Event with Martyn Pickersgill (University of Edinburgh) and Karen O'Connell (UTS).

Psychiatric diagnoses sometimes seem to be everywhere. Often the categories discussed within healthcare settings and popular culture are the ones listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – the DSM. How, though, are DSM diagnoses really used in Australian mental health contexts? Perhaps more importantly, how should they be used?

The Public Discussion Event will include talks from speakers from Australia and the UK, who will put forward perspectives from law, social science, and mental health. But the purpose of this event isn’t really to hear academics talking about their work. Rather, these short presentations aim to stimulate wider audience discussion about (Australian) mental health and (American) diagnosis.

The event will provide a forum for different people with a stake in mental health to talk to one another on an equal footing (e.g. people with lived experience of ill-health, legal practitioners, activists and advocates, and clinicians). We hope it will challenge and shape the work of the researchers presenting, and provide for new understandings and connections to emerge between the event participants.

Following brief talks from each speaker, there will be an hour where the audience will be invited to put forward questions and reflections to each other about what they would like Australian mental health research and practice to look like – and what role, if any, psychiatric diagnosis should play within that.


David Berle (UTS; Clinical psychology)
Dan Howard SC (UoW/UNSW; Law)
Jennifer Smith-Merry (USyd; Policy)
Penelope Weller (RMIT; Law)


13.00 Registration and Lunch
13.30 Research Talks
14.30 Coffee Break
14.45 Participant Discussion
15.45 Closing Comments
16.00 Close

Register here

This event is supported by funds from the University of Technology Sydney Distinguished Visiting Scholar Scheme and the Health Justice Research Group at UTS Law.


23 May 2017
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm


City - HaymarketCB08 Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, Building 8

14-28 Ultimo Road, Ultimo