Serve, subvert or emancipate? Promoting mental health in Australian immigration detention

Pauline Joy McLoughlin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In recent years, Immigration Detention Centres (IDC) have become sites of increasing concern in Australia, due to their notoriously negative impact on the mental health of detained asylum seekers. In this paper, I question whether it is possible and beneficial to promote mental health in what might be thought of as an inherently 'unhealthy' setting.

    Drawing upon health promotion theory and a Foucauldian approach to power, I critique the effectiveness of two major forms of health promoting work carried out in the immigration detention setting: internally-organised services and externally-organised support and advocacy. Given the problematic nature of the detention setting, I argue that the 'effectiveness' of these efforts is bound up in their capacity for subverting or positively reforming the IDC system itself as a barrier to mental health.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)145-154
    Number of pages9
    JournalAdvances in Mental Health
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


    • mental health
    • space and place
    • immigration detention
    • asylum seekers
    • health promotion


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