14 AND 15 NOVEMBER 2018

At the first critical perspectives conference, in 2009, recovery principles and practices were debated and discussed with a considerable optimism about their potential to radically change mental health care. Now, with the conference in its 10th year, it is time to take another critical look at recovery and in particular the adoption of so-called strategies of inclusion (e.g. co-production, community engagement, and the employment of peer support workers) by mainstream institutions. The conference will consider whether such strategies have led to a recovery-focused mental health care where service users have choices, control and authority, or whether these strategies constitute an act of appropriation and co-option servicing primarily the interests of the mental health establishment.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers 

Lucy Costa is Deputy Executive Director of The Empowerment Council, an independent service user rights-based organization in Toronto Canada. She works as a community activist and advocate promoting the rights of mental health service users/survivors as well as encouraging critical analysis about service user inclusion in the mental health sector. She has written a number of articles and blogs, and is co-editor of a forthcoming book entitled, Madness, Violence and Power: A Radical Anthology Lynne Friedli is a freelance researcher, with a special interest in the relationship between mental health and social justice.  She has just completed research on the (mis) use of psychology in workfare with Hubbub at the Wellcome Collection. Lynne is also interested in the politics of strengths based discourse, the use of positive psychology in the ‘reification of ‘work’ and how these developments have come to dominate (or perhaps colonise) ideas about Recovery, as well as inspiring a resurgence of new forms of resistance to work.
Deirdre Lillis briefly experienced the force of the psychiatric response to her emotional distress in her early twenties. From there she took a path focusing on independent advocacy, facilitating service user/survivor involvement in the planning and delivering of mental health supports and services and supporting survivor led research. She is currently responsible for the Cork Advocacy Service available to people with disabilities and people using mental health services through the Social and Health Education Project (SHEP). Helen Spandler is a Reader in Mental Health in the School of Social Work, Care and Community at the University of Central Lancashire. She is the author of numerous books and articles on mental health practice, policy & politics, including ‘Madness, Distress and the Politics of Disablement’ (2015).  She is also Managing Editor of Asylum: the magazine for democratic psychiatry
Danny Taggart is a clinical psychologist and academic director on the clinical psychology program at the University of Essex. He is also a survivor of institutional childhood sexual abuse in the north of Ireland. Danny has published and spoken widely about his multiple perspectives on the subject of trauma and mental health in the hope of broadening debate about how mental health professionals can best respond to abuse survivors but more importantly to argue for involving survivors in policy, service and treatment development. Jijian Voronka is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Windsor, Canada. Using interdisciplinary critical theories, her research explores the consequences of mental health service user inclusion strategies in research and service delivery systems. She is currently working on a book “Troubling Inclusion: The value of mad labour” which offers a Mad Studies account of the politics of inclusion.

Call for abstracts (oral presentations/workshops) of 45 minutes’ duration related to the conference theme and outlining its aims and intentions. Please submit (in Word- 250 words max) by 10 September 2018. Please also submit a brief bio (in Word – 150 words max). Email abstract and bio to Inquiries to or

Registration details will be circulated in September 2018.

The Conference organisers are Harry Gijbels (retired), Catherine McAuley School of Nursing and Midwifery, and Lydia Sapouna, School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork, Ireland.