Mental Welfare: Voluntary Mental Health and Learning Disability Organizations in Britain, c. 1946-1959
Burris, Kevin Timothy
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This dissertation traces the trajectories of four British voluntary organizations working in the fields of mental health and learning disability in the late 1940s and 1950s: the National Association for Mental Health; the Mental After Care Association; the Ex-Services Welfare Society; and the National Association for Parents of Backward Children. As the British welfare state was established in these years, voluntary organizations were forced to adjust to a new political landscape, carrying on operations despite increased state responsibility for mental health and learning disability care. First, the dissertation is an institutional history of four distinct organizations, concerned with operations, administration, leadership, and publicity, among a host of other day-to-day affairs. Second, it examines varying responses among voluntarists to the establishment and permeation of the welfare state in British life, asking how these organizations maintained their vitality (and importantly, their sources of support and funding) within a landscape of expanding statutory service provision. That they did survive, and thrive, into the present suggests that the interventionist, cradle-to-grave welfare state was not as all-encompassing as originally envisionedat least in the field of mental health care. Rather than challenge increasing statutory dominance, their persistence confirmed and reinforced several elements of the nascent welfare state. Though voluntarist leaders tended toward political conservatism, and often criticized specific policy directives or statutory services, their organizations generally bolstered three major welfare goals: the regulation of disorder, the maintenance of non-working populations, and the reproduction of labour.