Social Policy and Society

Themed Section on Mental Health and Human Rights

A Third Wave, Not a Third Way? New Labour, Human Rights and Mental Health in Historical Context

Mick Carpentera1

a1 Department of Sociology, University of Warwick E-mail: [email protected]


This historically situated, UK-based review of New Labour's human rights and mental health policy following the 1998 Human Rights Act (HRA) and 2007 Mental Health Act (MHA), draws on Klug's identification of three waves of human rights. These occurred around the American and French Revolutions, after World War II, and following the collapse of state communism in 1989, and the article assesses impacts on mental health policy up to and including the New Labour era. It critiques current equality and rights frameworks in mental health and indicates how they might be brought into closer alignment with third wave principles.