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Rural madness: a geographical reading and critique of the rural mental health literature

Burns, Nicola and Philo, Chris and Parr, Hester (2003) Rural madness: a geographical reading and critique of the rural mental health literature. Journal of Rural Studies, 19 (3). pp. 259-281. ISSN 0743-0167

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This paper provides a geographical reading and critique of existing literature on rural mental health. It investigates what this literature has to say about how different dimensions of rural space - physical, demographic, economic, social and cultural - impact upon both the mental health of rural dwellers and the provision of mental health services to rural populations. It is argued that there is much to be learned from the existing literature, although caution is expressed about slipping into stereotypical notions regarding the constitution of rural space. Questions are raised about a common tendency to lean upon more or less examined rural-urban contrasts, although useful reflections can be found on the tangled representational politics of rural mental health embedded within differing characterisations of the countryside as opposed to the city.