A national framework for recovery-oriented mental health services: guide for practitioners and providers

Capability 2D: Responsive to and inclusive of gender, age, culture, spirituality and other diversity irrespective of location and setting

Page last updated: 2013

Recovery-oriented mental health practice and service delivery is respectful of and responsive to diversity in the community.

Core principles

  • Effective mental health services are responsive and suited to a person’s age, developmental phase and gender-related needs.
  • Responsive and inclusive services respect and accommodate diversity among people who use services, including people from diverse cultural backgrounds, language groups and communities.
  • Gender, sex identity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and spiritual practices are acknowledged and responses to diversity become core components of service delivery.
  • Diverse views on mental health issues/illness, wellbeing, treatments, services and recovery are understood and accommodated.
  • Recovery-oriented services seek to overcome the adverse impacts of location or setting.


Values and attitudes

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • embrace, value and celebrate diversity
  • understand their own values, assumptions and world views
  • recognise peoples’ expression of their personal identity and beliefs
  • acknowledge the relevance of personal belief systems to mental health including cultural, religious and spiritual perspectives


Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • understand stages of human development and how approaches to recovery might differ across the life span
  • understand cultural diversity and its applicability to mental health practice and service delivery
  • understand the range of factors influencing people’s expectations of safe practice Top of page

Skills and behaviours

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • demonstrate sensitivity when working with people and families from a diverse range of backgrounds irrespective of age, developmental phase, gender, culture, religious beliefs or language group
  • use the information provided by diverse groups of people about their preferences and needs to develop appropriate responses
  • provide safe care that reflects and actively includes people’s values, aspirations, goals, circumstances and previous life choices
  • deliver developmentally appropriate responses
  • support people in the practice of spiritual activities they find helpful
  • understand the importance of seeking out assistance when in doubt about aspects of diversity

Recovery-oriented practice

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • provide opportunities for people to share information about their needs and expectations related to age, development, gender, sex identity, sexual orientation and spirituality
  • include family recovery approaches, especially for infants, children and where relevant for adolescents
  • ensure access to diversity and cultural support services when required
  • access knowledge about diversity from people with lived experience of mental health issues
  • establish understanding of shared and different perspectives of mental health Top of page

Recovery-oriented leadership

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • ensure participation opportunities for all, including children and young people
  • proactively incorporate input from people with a lived experience to ensure responsiveness to age, gender and diversity in organisational policy, practice and service improvements
  • set in place processes for systematically identifying training needs and regularly reviewing practices to ensure that staff and volunteers embrace cultural, gender and age sensitive and safe practice
  • routinely offer appropriate age, gender and diversity competence development and training
  • have systems in place to identify and monitor the changing needs of local population groups.


Use e-mental health service developments to increase responsiveness to rural and remote communities and to fly in/fly out employees, their families and their adopting communities.

Resource materials