As the drive towards community care has increased in momentum, organisations involved in the establishment of community mental health facilities have encountered public opposition. It has been argued that this resistance is due to the attitudes held by the public towards people with mental health problems. This paper reports findings from a study of community attitudes towards mentally ill people. Discourse analysis was used to explore people's views about this client group by examining the ways in which they were expressed in letters to the local press and in subsequent discussions and interviews, when arguing for or against a community mental health facility in their community. The findings demonstrate how participants formulate their arguments for and against the location of a new mental health facility in the neighbourhood around particular argumentative topics. Participants deployed a range of argumentative forms and rhetorical devices. The implications of these findings for mental health practice are discussed.