Community participation and citizenship

Community participation and citizenship: This domain relates to people's social and community life. In recognising the importance of social engagement and community participation to mental health and wellbeing, mental health services have a role in supporting people to engage in social and vocational networks and communities of their choosing. While it is not possible for mental health services to ensure that people are adequately included in all social and community networks outside the mental health care setting, mental health professionals can practice in ways that encourage people in their social endeavours and support people to access opportunities in the community.

  • Core principles
    • People with lived experience of mental illness are capable of making meaningful social contributions, regardless of the presence or absence of symptoms of mental illness.
    • Positive relationships, meaningful opportunities and community engagement are important elements of recovery.
    • Stigmatising attitudes towards people with lived experience of mental illness adversely impact on their mental health, recovery and wellbeing.
    • Mental health services actively promote people's social and community participation.
  • Key capabilities

    Mental health professionals

    • actively support and encourage people to utilise opportunities in the community, in line with their personal values, interests and aspirations
    • support people's relationships and use practices that do not compromise or interfere with people's relationships and social networks
    • support people to locate, utilise, enhance and create opportunities for social and vocational participation
    • support people to access mainstream community resources
    • actively challenge stigmatising attitudes, discrimination and social exclusion, and work to promote positive attitudes, understandings and images of people with lived experience of mental illness within the service and in the wider community
    • recognise and promote people's right and ability to contribute in meaningful ways in the community and in social settings of their choosing
    • recognise the importance and value of social and community engagement for people's recovery and wellbeing
    • recognise that stigmatising attitudes can mean that some people with mental illness are excluded from opportunities in the community
    • recognise that experiences of social exclusion can adversely impact on people's mental health, wellbeing and recovery
    • acknowledge that people can, at times, experience stigmatising attitudes within mental health care settings that adversely impact on their mental health, wellbeing and recovery
    • can identify and utilise people's social and community networks as potential vehicles to support their recovery
    • can assist people to identify and access social and vocational opportunities in the community
    • identify situations in which negative attitudes towards people with mental illness are present and actively challenge these attitudes
    • develop knowledge of opportunities for meaningful social engagement, education and employment in people's local communities
  • Good practice
    • Support people's relationships and social networks.
    • Be aware of the cultural, social and historical factors that limit people's access to resources and opportunities.
    • Develop awareness of mainstream community resources and incorporate them into practice whenever possible.
    • Network and build partnerships with non-mental-health service providers to ensure that people have the best opportunity to participate in their communities.
    • Make every effort to support and facilitate access to the community (for example, driving someone somewhere, making phone calls, arranging first contact for someone).
    • Develop a thorough understanding of evidence-based approaches, such as education and employment support, social skills training and family psycho-education, which can help support people's community participation.
    • Work constructively with peer support workers towards people's recovery goals.
  • Good leadership
    • Facilitate and support peer support processes and ensure peer support workers have adequate resources.
    • Recognise the importance of, and encourage opportunities for, social enterprises.
    • Ensure the organisation supports people to access mainstream services.
    • Systematically establish relationships with community organisations and networks to create pathways for people and to build the capacity of organisations to work with people accessing mental health services.
    • Actively support people to access opportunities (for example, offer to make initial phone calls, arrange initial contact).
    • Explore innovative options to meet people's needs and wishes.

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