Risk, Recovery and Capacity: Competing or Complementary Approaches to Mental Health Social Work

Gavin Davidson, Lisa Brophy, Jim Campbell
2016 Australian Social Work  
Mental health social workers have a central role in providing support to people with mental health problems and in the use of coercion aimed at dealing with risk. Mental health services have traditionally focused on monitoring symptoms and ascertaining the risks people may present to themselves and/or others. This well-intentioned but negative focus on deficits has contributed to stigma, discrimination and exclusion experienced by service users. Emerging understandings of risk also suggest that
more » ... our inability to accurately predict the future makes risk a problematic foundation for compulsory intervention. It is therefore argued that alternative approaches are needed to make issues of power and inequality transparent. This article focuses on two areas of practice: the use of recovery based approaches, which promote supported decision making and inclusion; and the assessment of a person's ability to make decisions, their mental capacity, as a less discriminatory gateway criterion than risk for compulsory intervention.
doi:10.1080/0312407x.2015.1126752 fatcat:2u7yy3oxijgndjrvydb7quynh4