Between vulnerability and risk? Mental health in UK counter-terrorism
by Rita Augestad Knudsen
The relationship between terrorism and mental health has been a scholarly concern for decades. So far, the literature has concentrated on the relationship between terrorism and diagnosable disorders, and the prevalence of certain psychological traits among terrorist offenders. Meanwhile, the incorporation of perspectives regarding mental health in the operational space of counter-terrorism has been largely ignored.
This article explores three current approaches to individual mental health in UK counter-terrorism: the use of ‘appropriate adults’ in terrorism-related cases; the ‘mental health hubs’ introduced in 2016; and counter-terrorism-related risk and vulnerability assessments. The article argues that in light of the UK’s new counter-terrorism strategy, these practices show an increasing merger between conceptualisations of vulnerabilities and risks in how UK counter-terrorism approaches mental health.