Alex Barnard is an assistant professor of sociology at New York University, and received his PhD in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2019. He is writing a book, tentatively entitled "Mental States," that examines why people with similar illnesses have very different trajectories between institutions of care and control in France and the United States. His work uses interviews, on-the-ground observations, and archives to examine why these countries developed very different mental health systems starting in the 1960s and the consequences of these choices in clinics, social service agencies, courts, and in the lives of service users themselves.
Since 2018, he has been working on a parallel project focused on analyzing the evolution and functioning of California's conservatorship system, which provides intensive, legally-mandated services to people with severe mental illness deemed as unable to meet their basic needs.
He has written a report, "Absent Authority, Absent Accountability" aimed at helping to identify how to get professionals the resources, information, and coordination to make conservatorship a positive tool of transformation for vulnerable Californians.
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