In trying to unravel the complexities of mental health policy and practice, the most useful organising principle is probably a chronological (historical) perspective (Porter, 1987). Comparing mental health policy over time enables us to see how successive governments have built on or responded to previous policy and to the social, political and economic climate of the time. Up until the (re)establishment of devolved administrations across the four countries of the UK at the end of the twentieth century, much of this history is shared. However, in the twenty-first century we are now witnessing the unrolling of significantly different policy and legislative responses in each of the countries, reflecting different social, cultural, economic and political concerns.
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