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

Capability 5A: Supporting social inclusion and advocacy on social determinants

Page last updated: 2013

Recovery-oriented practice and service delivery advocates to address poor and unequal living circumstances that adversely impact personal recovery.

Core principles

  • People with mental health issues want to, and should be able to, enjoy the same social, economic and educational opportunities as everyone else.
  • Housing, transport, education, employment, income security, health care and participation are social determinants of health and wellbeing, and poor and unequal living conditions in these areas create disadvantage and poor health and mental health outcomes.
  • Because opportunity is a vital element of recovery, services ensure a focus on social inclusion.
  • Although mental health services are not part of a person’s natural support networks, they can act as a conduit for people to their communities of choice.
  • Mental health services can play an important role in helping people to maintain naturally occurring supports and networks, access health care, maintain stable housing and take advantage of education, employment and other opportunities.


Values and attitudes

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • uphold the human rights of people with lived experience to participate in community and social settings that exist outside of mental health services
  • acknowledge the importance to personal recovery of naturally occurring supports, connections and opportunities
  • acknowledge that social exclusion or lack of opportunity can adversely impact on people’s wellbeing
  • challenge barriers to social inclusion, including within their service Top of page


Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • understand that social inclusion is a determinant of health and wellbeing
  • understand the impacts on recovery of poor and unequal living conditions
  • know about community services and resources and actively support people to seek out information about the services they want
  • understand how self-stigma might impede a person from taking up naturally occurring opportunities for participation
  • maintain knowledge of current legislation, instruments, protocols and procedures governing people’s human rights and legal rights:
    • The United Nations universal declaration of human rights (1948)
    • The United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disability (2006)
    • The United Nations Principles for the protection of persons with mental illness and for the improvement of mental health care (1991)
    • antidiscrimination legislation

Skills and behaviours

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • draw attention to inequity and contribute to community partnerships to mitigate this
  • support people to understand and act on their human rights and to self-advocate
  • actively support people’s access to naturally occurring community resources, supports and networks
  • discuss recovery goals, make appropriate referrals and support access to services and resources that can contribute to:
    • meaningful social engagement
    • education, vocational training and employment opportunities
    • income security
    • housing stability
    • general health and wellbeing outcomes
  • help people and their families to get the most and best out of services—that is, to identify what they want from services, understand when and how to access services, build effective working relationships, make complaints, decide when to exit and so on
  • are familiar with the criminal justice system and develop working relationships with police, justice, corrections and probation and parole Top of page

Recovery-oriented practice

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • use knowledge of human and legal rights and service systems to challenge social exclusion and disadvantage and to advocate for social justice
  • are active partners in broad-based alliances that advocate for action on social exclusion and the social determinants of health and wellbeing

Recovery-oriented leadership

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • model a positive service culture that promotes inclusion of people using their services and their families at all levels
  • regularly review support plans and service activities to ensure they are inclusive of naturally occurring social connections and opportunities for participation in the community
  • collaborate to provide referral pathways into and out of services that can contribute to recovery outcomes
  • validate and support the advocacy efforts of staff, consumers, families and communities
  • input into relevant public inquiries and reform processes.


  • Develop strong working relationships with community development officers in local councils.
  • Use social media to promote community resource directories and information on community events, clubs, associations and services.
  • Participate in Social Inclusion Week.
  • Participate in and contribute to community festivals and events. Top of page

Resource materials