“Policing ‘Vancouver’s mental health crisis’: a critical discourse analysis” Article Summary

November 21, 2020| Prof. Millie June

 “Policing ‘Vancouver’s mental health crisis’: a critical discourse analysis” Article Summary


Boyd and Kerr (2016) investigated the mental health crisis in Vancouver using the police recorded evidence for five years. The study is based on the fact that the police department encounters mentally ill people more often when undertaking their duties. It is because the system for looking after people with mental health problems in Vancouver became ineffective, thus leaving people with mental health disorders to engage in law violating acts. The body of literature contributing to the completion of the study includes the police reports that can be accessed from the police department of Vancouver. Boyd and Kerr (2016) approached the topic by evaluating the discourses of mental health and dangerousness in the existing mental health system. The thesis statement that guides the reader throughout the study is that police have about mental health can apply in other areas. Therefore, analyzing the police department’s mental health information can assist psychiatrists and policy-makers in their work toward improving the lives of mental health patients.

Supporting Evidence

The first point that supports the thesis is the role of the police department in Vancouver as the only agency with the ability to make claims about the social problem related to mental health issues (Boyd & Kerr, 2016). The study states that one can only understand the real issues encountered in mental health by looking at how the police say about the mentally ill population. It is because when people with mental health disorders do not receive enough treatment, they end up in violent activities that lead them to jail. For example, a person with a personality disorder may become the perpetrator of domestic violence, which calls for police involvement, especially when someone is injured. The police department is also efficient in communicating the data collected in the field. Therefore, one can access records of the entire locality in one police station. Generally, Boyd and Kerr (2016) explain that the police department is the best place to access information related to mental health disorder victims’ social problems.

Another point that supports the thesis statement is the discourses of dangerousness associated with mental illnesses, as presented by the reports retrieved from the police department. All the reports held some negative representation of mental illness, showing how dangerous it can be in society. Some reports used the word danger to refer to the action of mentally ill people. It means that there is no good in mental health problems, especially during a crisis. Boyd and Kerr (2016) explored dangerousness discourse in police reports using two approaches. The first approach is the danger that the mentally ill people may expose themselves. For example, they might have extreme experiences of depression, which can make the victim develop suicidal ideation. The second approach is the danger that victims of mental problems pose to others when they become violent.

To support the above points, Boyd and Kerr (2016) used actual police reports as an example of how mental health disorders are a problem to society. For example, one report stated that most violent crime incidences are a result of mental health problems. This kind of problem is linked to the lack of collaboration between health providers and law enforcers, which means that problems cannot adequately get solved. Within the report, a proposed solution indicated that the institutions that deal with mental health should seek more resources and share information with the police department to avoid increased mental health problem incidences. Through these points, Boyd and Kerr (2016) explain how the police department can provide information to be used in other mental health agencies, as declared in the thesis statement.


Boyd and Kerr (2016) explain the article’s significance by acknowledging the importance of police roles when it comes to maintaining the well-being of people who live with mental problems. The reports they give about mental health problems helps to indicate the failure of mental health institutions that are supposed to care for mentally ill people. Also, the police department’s information eliminates any ambiguity that arises when people try to understand how mental health leads to social problems. Besides, the finding can apply to the development of a new policy. Policy-makers depend on what the public refers to as the problem. Therefore, by learning how poorly managed mental health care may lead to problems, policymakers can make informed decisions.

Also, Boyd and Kerr (2016) explain the significance of the findings by indicating its importance in knowing the kind of people who need help in society. Boyd and Kerr (2016) targeted the mentally ill people, but the explanation indicates that mental health patients who cannot access the care are the most vulnerable group in violent crimes. Therefore, the findings give insights on what to do to help the target population.


In conclusion, the thesis statement evolved allowed seeking information about social problems related to mental health patients, and the information can help health providers and policy-makers. The first main point discusses how police agencies provide a reliable source of information about mental health problems at the community level. The second point indicates how dangerous mental health problems can be in society. Therefore, as specified in the thesis statement, the reader can acquire information about mental health issues and the problems that policy-makers and health providers must solve. However, the study should have answered the following question. What instruments that the author used to verify the validity and reliability of the police report?


Boyd, J., & Kerr, T. (2016). Policing ‘Vancouver’s mental health crisis’: a critical discourse analysis. Critical Public Health26(4), 418-433.



Categories: Uncategorized