Citation Conlon M, Bush CJ, Ariyaratnam MI, Brennan GK & Owtram R (2015) Exploring the compatibility of mental health nursing, recovery-focused practice and the welfare state. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 22 (5), pp. 337-343. https://doi.org/10.1111/jpm.12222
Abstract Accessible summary
* Mental health nurses are expected to adhere to a range of professional values.
* The values of social integration that mental health nurses practise are somewhat at odds with the values of the British welfare state.
* Alternative systems of welfare support are demonstrated in other countries.
* Mental health nurses must consider models of practice, such as that described by Clifton et al. (2013b), to manage the disconnection between what is expected and what can be achieved.
This discussion paper considers the implications for mental health nursing practice when working alongside individuals in receipt of state benefits. There is arguably a profound impact on an individual's recovery from mental ill health when that individual is also dependent on financial support from the government. Access to welfare benefits can have a significant impact on the recovery journey of that individual. This discussion paper will consider the practice implications for mental health nurses whose professional values include maxims such as ‘challenging inequality’ and ‘respecting diversity’, and will seek to examine the implications for practice when such values are divergent from those demonstrated in government policy. The paper will make comparisons with international welfare systems to demonstrate the way in which alternative configurations of state welfare can promote a system of social justice that is in greater equilibrium with the professional values of mental health nurses. Finally, the discussion will focus on the options for mental health nurses to either subscribe to government policy or to find compromise solutions that enable attention to remain focused and active on a strong value base of social justice and recovery-focused practice.