Unravelling ‘Mental Illness’: What Exactly Are We Talking About?

John Swinton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The issue of the rich and complex relationships between migration and mental health is both fascinating and enlightening as the various chapters in this book highlight most effectively. Culture, context, trauma, social dissonance and dislocation all have important corollaries within the lives of those who, for whatever reason, find themselves transported from a place of homeliness and security to a space wherein home needs to be created and recreated rather than simply dwelt within. The rebuilding of our sense of home can be difficult and traumatic in terms of mental health and ill health. All of that is in some senses a given. What is less obvious however is precisely what is meant when we talk about ‘mental illness’. The nature of mental illness is highly contested, so the suggestion that migrants can or will encounter it is also inevitably contested.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMigration and Mental Health
Subtitle of host publicationPast and Present
EditorsM Harper
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-52968-8
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-52967-1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameMental Health in Historical Perspective
ISSN (Print)2634-6036
ISSN (Electronic)2634-6044

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s).


  • Auditory Verbal Hallucination
  • Mental Health
  • Mental Health Problem
  • Mental Illness
  • Natural Kind


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