The First Resort: Social Psychiatry, Universal Basic Income, and the Prevention of Mental Illness

The Health, Medicine and Society cluster of the School of History is delighted to welcome Professor Matthew Smith to give a paper on 8th March 2023.

This paper explores the history of social psychiatry in the United States during the middle of the twentieth century.  

Social psychiatry explored the relationship between socioeconomic factors and mental health using the insights of both social scientists and psychiatrists.  Its ultimate goal was to develop preventive mental health strategies.

While it had significant political traction during the post-war period, it failed to inspire structural changes to tackle the factors, including poverty, inequality and community disintegration, that social psychiatrists identified as being bad for mental health.  The paper argues that amidst our current mental health crisis, Universal Basic Income could address many of these factors and be the foundation for a preventive mental health strategy.

Matthew Smith is Professor of Health History at the University of Strathclyde’s Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare.  His research, funded by the Wellcome Trust and AHRC, has focussed on the history of mental health and psychiatry, allergy and immunology and food and nutrition and has resulted in three edited volumes and four monographs, including The First Resort: The History of Social Psychiatry in the United States (Columbia UP, 2023).  

Currently, he is writing a book project entitled Why We Need the History of Health and Medicine and is about to start a project funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh on the history of hydrotherapy in nineteenth-century spas and asylums in Britain.  He is co-editor of the Palgrave series Mental Health in Historical Perspective.

Headshot of Matthew Smith


How to attend

Booking is not required for this free event.