Being excluded blights the lives of the mentally ill. Exclusion is both cause and consequence of mental ill‐health and extends beyond material deprivation to exclusion from the activities which give meaning to life. Promoting inclusion is central to the work of all mental health practitioners and the purpose of this paper is to advance the practices which support this.
The literature on what supports social inclusion and the related concept of recovery is reviewed. The working practices and prevailing theoretical models in psychiatry are also considered in the context of understanding how these practices and models can support socially inclusive and recovery‐orientated ways of working.
Social inclusion and recovery interact dynamically. Central to being “in recovery” is the experience of being included. Social inclusion is also a platform on which to participate in life's activities and to learn to “live well” again. The practices which support these approaches are consistent with medical models of care, with the bio‐psychosocial model that prevails in psychiatric practice and with existing guidelines on the nature and purpose of the therapeutic relationship.
Obstacles are described that impede adopting new practices and these include creating additional work, increased risk in a risk averse environment, and incompatibility with current models of medical practice. This paper seeks to describe the cost of exclusion, the value of inclusion, the practices which support recovery and social inclusion and to refute the arguments for not adopting these ways of working.
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