Research has shown that mental healthcare policies aimed at achieving autonomy and integration for people with mental disorders have been developing all over the world. Critics working from a governmentality perspective have argued that these changes are associated with broader neoliberal strategies and aims. In France however, there is no systematic work on this development. In this study, we have applied Bacchi’s “What’s the Problem Represented to Be” approach to the main texts published by the French Ministry of Health since 2005, in order to study how the citizenship of mental health users is problematized. According to our analysis, the objectives of the autonomisation, responsibilisation and self-management of users have become increasingly central, following the recognition of users’ rights, social inclusion and the fight against the stigma of mental disorders. These developments have many points of contact with neoliberal governmentality. We conclude with recommendations for empirical research on discourses and practices in the field, where mental health policies are translated into mental health projects and practice.
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