• France;
  • public action;
  • mental health;
  • knowledge;
  • health policy


The new mental health care policy, which has been set up in France, involves a change of paradigm, which has been going on since the 2000s: the emphasis is shifting from psychiatry to mental health care. This shift mainly concerns the knowledge about mental health is produced and circulates among an increasingly large number of bodies. Mainly grounded on actor interview analysis, official reports and blueprints, this study shows that the results of this process are numerous. They include the development of ambulatory care and strong moves towards decentralization. More data and knowledge are therefore to be shared in this more complex system. However, the French State, in the form of the central administration, is taking advantage of this move and is still contributing significantly to the definition and implementation of the new policy. On the other hand, the new governance dynamic is not leading to standardization of medical practices, as the mental health field remains highly heterogeneous. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.