Social Perspectives in Mental Health: Developing Social Models to Understand and Work with Mental Distress

By Jerry Tew | Go to book overview

Foreword

It is a cause for celebration to be able to introduce this thought-provoking book to a wider public. Each chapter is the tip of an iceberg of knowledge and experience, perfectly replicating the sense of discovery of the original study day that inspired the book.

The Social Perspectives Network (SPN) is a network open to anyone who is interested in looking at mental distress in terms of people's social experience – how social factors may both contribute to people becoming distressed, and play a crucial part in promoting their recovery. It grew out of a need to find space to explore the common ground between those who use services and those who work in them. One shared view is that a disease model of mental distress – which treats someone's 'illness' apart from their life events, social relationships and place in the community – has inevitable limitations.

There have been recent moves to relocate social care practitioners within combined health and social care trusts. This has led to concerns that reshuffling the pack of how services are delivered might be at the expense of what is valued by those using the services. If social perspectives became marginalised, the overall impact of reorganisation might be to reduce people's opportunities for recovery – particularly if social care workers moving over into joint trusts were to lose their community links into housing, employment, benefit knowledge and leisure opportunities. There were worries that the relationship basis of much of this type of work was less 'evidenced' than the psychopharmacological approaches of twenty-first-century practice. However, set against these concerns, the new structures for 'joined-up' working offer real opportunities for crossing professional boundaries and promoting social perspectives within the practice of all mental health workers.

-7-

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