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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Mental health services ‘must place more emphasis on recovery’

Embargoed until 03 June 2009

Mental health services must place far more emphasis on the principles of recovery and helping service users live a life beyond illness, according to a new position statement from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The statement. launched on 3 June 2009, has been produced by the College’s Social Inclusion Scoping Group. Dr Jed Boardman, chair of the Group, said: “People with mental health problems and learning disabilities are among the most marginalised and stigmatised groups in our society. For many of them, social exclusion is a harsh reality.

“We want to see a shift in the culture and practice of mental health and learning disability services, so that services are more concerned with helping people recover their lives – they should be organised to promote and facilitate personal recovery and to foster opportunity.”

The Scoping Group identifies three key elements that are central to social recovery: hope, a sense of personal control, and the opportunity for people to lead the kind of life they want.

Janey Antoniou said: “As a service user, I am aware how important it is to have a social network and to feel I’m part of society. I welcome this document from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which tries to help give opportunities to all people with mental health problems and learning disabilities.”

Paul Jenkins, chief executive of mental health charity Rethink, has lent his organisation's support to the new position statement. Speaking at the launch of the document during the College's 2009 Annual Meeting in Liverpool, Mr Jenkins said: “Social inclusion should be the heart of modern, recovery focused mental health services promoting hope and aspirations of what can be possible in spite of mental health problems and challenging the stigma and discrimination which mean that people with mental health problems are one of the most marginalised groups in society. 

“Psychiatrists have a key role in promoting social inclusion as individuals practitioners, working with other services and agencies and in helping lead a sensible public debate about recovery and risk. I would like to congratulate the College on producing the statement and in being prepared to champion change within the profession.”

The position statement makes a series of recommendations for changing mental health and learning disability services, including:

  • Increasing the number of people with personal experience of mental health problems and/or learning disabilities who are employed in mental health services.
  • Strengthening the involvement of service users and carers in the planning of services.
  • Recognising that the relationship between service users and mental health professionals needs to be one of partnership.
  • Building more socially inclusive practice into medical training.

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Nevins
Press & Social Media Officer
Telephone: 020 3701 2543
Claire McLoughlin
Media & Communications Manager 
Telephone: 020 3701 2544
Out of hours contact number: 07860 755896



Mental Health and Social Inclusion: Making Psychiatry and Mental Health Services fit for the 21st Century, is available on the Royal College of Psychiatrists website:


Note to editors:

The Social Inclusion Scoping Group included representatives from all Faculties of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, as well as external mental health organisations, and service user representatives.


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