Policing ‘Vancouver’s mental health crisis’: a critical discourse analysis
Jade Boyd & Thomas Kerr
Critical Public Health
February 9, 2015
In Canada and other western nations there has been an unprecedented expansion of criminal justice systems and a well documented increase in contact between people with mental illness with the police. Canadian police, especially in Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), have been increasingly at the forefront of discourse and regulation specific to mental health. Drawing on critical discourse analysis, this paper to explores this claim through a case study of four Vancouver Police Department (VPD) policy reports on ‘Vancouver’s mental health crisis’ from 2008 to 2013, which include recommendations for action. Analyzed is the VPD’s role in framing issues of mental health in one urban space. This study is the first analysis to critically examine the VPD reports on mental health in Vancouver, BC. The reports reproduce negative discourses about deinstitutionalization, mental illness and dangerousness that may contribute to further stigma and discrimination of persons with mental illness. Policing reports are widely drawn upon, thus critical analyses are particularly significant for policy-makers and public health professionals in and outside of Canada.