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Sexual violence and the mental health system: A critical discourse analysis

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posted on 2021-05-23, 10:43 authored by Julia Getchell
Sexual violence is a relevant topic in the Canadian mental health system. However, the dominant bio-medical understanding of mental health can be harmful to survivors. This study is focused on analyzing how sexual violence is discussed within the bio-medical mental health system. The bio-medical understanding of mental health is one that conceptualizes “mental illness” is brain disease and emphasizes pharmacological treatment. Sexual violence is a broad term that describes any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality. Critical Discourse Analysis is used in this study to find and analyze discourses in the bio-medical mental health system found in three interviews with mental health service providers. The discourses that emerged were as follows: 1. people were “boiled down” to their diagnoses or experiences of sexual violence; 2. professionalism; 3. being funneled into “streams of care”; 4. what makes someone credible; and 5. who “gets it”. The MRP concludes with a discussion of implications of these findings for social work.





Master of Social Work


Social Work

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type