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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

Social Approaches to Mental Distress

ISBN 9780230545076
Publication Date March 2011
Formats Paperback 
Publisher Palgrave
Series Practical Social Work Series

Over-reliance on biological models in mental health practice has resulted in growing discontent from practitioners and service users, who know that social factors also have a major impact on people's mental health. Social approaches enable practitioners to promote recovery in ways that move beyond the limitations of biomedical treatments.

Championing a range of innovative approaches, this timely book offers a holistic model for understanding and responding to mental distress. It places mental health within its broader social context, encouraging engagement with not just the person experiencing mental distress, but also their family and wider social world.

Drawing on relevant theory and research evidence, the author:
• Considers the inter-relationships between social circumstances, life events and mental distress;
• Explores the roots of mental distress and its perpetuating factors;
• Provides a toolkit for assessment and action planning within the social context;
• Advocates recovery-oriented practice, based on emancipatory values, social participation and positive risk-taking.

A welcome new addition to the BASW Practical Social Work series, Social Approaches to Mental Distress is a core text for students and practitioners of social work and other mental health disciplines. It is also insightful reading for anyone whose own life has been affected by mental health difficulties.

JERRY TEW is Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Work at the University of Birmingham. He has substantial previous experience as a social work practitioner specialising in mental health. His publications include Social Theory, Power and Practice (Palgrave, 2002) and Social Perspectives in Mental Health (Jessica Kingsley, 2005).

Values and Working Relationships
Understanding the Experience of Mental Distress
Social Circumstances and Life Events: How Damaging Social Experiences May Contribute to Mental Distress
Power, Agency and Social Capital
Personality Adaptations, Resilience and Vulnerability
Families, Relationships and Social Systems
Social Models of Mental Distress
Early Intervention and Crisis Resolution
Recovery and SocialParticipation
Risk Taking and Safeguarding
Assessment, Action Planning and Self-directed Support
Concluding Comments: Putting Social Theory and Research Into Practice.


Excellent and well written text with a sound theoretical and empirical argument for the relevance of social approaches to mental ill health.' - Michael Coffey, College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University, UK
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