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Defining social exclusion and its relationship with mental health

MAY 14, 2008
Social exclusion could be a useful concept for understanding the social experiences of people with mental health problems, but a clearer understanding of what the term means is needed as well as a consistent way of measuring it. This is the finding of a study conducted by Dr Craig Morgan of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's along with colleagues from the mental health charity Rethink, the University of Oxford and Queen Mary, University of London.
The research team carried out a review of previously published studies on social exclusion and assessed the definitions offered in each one. They found that most definitions place an emphasis on lack of participation in social activities and being affected in multiple ways, such as having a low income, poor housing and being socially isolated. Some studies explored the link between social exclusion and mental health, highlighting the role that discrimination and other negative responses from society can play in social exclusion.
Of the various definitions in use, the team favour the interpretation of social exclusion as an enforced lack of participation in key social, cultural and political activities. They recommend that this definition is used as the basis of a system of measurement that takes into account both objective factors and the subjective experiences of the individual.
For more information on discrimination and mental health: The Moving People campaign aims to eliminate stigma and discrimination from mental health and publicly challenge attitudes towards mental illness in England. The Institute of Psychiatry is a partner in this initiative and will be evaluating the campaigns output and successes.
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