Social Factors and Recovery from Mental Health Difficulties: A Review of the Evidence

Shulamit Ramon, Jerry Tew, Mike Slade, Victoria Bird, Jane Melton, Clair Le Boutillier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

248 Citations (Scopus)


Although there is now increasing evidence as to the role played by social factors in contributing to the onset of mental health difficulties, there has been little systematic examination of the role that social factors can play in enabling (or impeding) recovery. This paper provides a review of the emerging international literature in this area, and is linked to a wider conceptual review undertaken as part of a major project researching recovery practice in the UK. Research findings are explored in detail in relation to three areas that had been identified by the wider review as central to recovery: empowerment and control over one's life; connectedness (including both inter-personal relationships and social inclusion); and rebuilding positive identities (often within the context of stigma and discrimination). Out of this emerges a clearer picture of the importance of particular social factors, which starts to define a more broad-based and proactive agenda for mental health social work—with an emphasis not just on working with individuals, but also on engaging with families and communities. However, there is a need for further research and development work in order to determine how to intervene most effectively in order to influence specific social factors
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-460
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number3
Early online date15 Jun 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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