This chapter recognizes that the concept of diversity is not always well understood or defined at either a theoretical or a practice level. A task for the author, and then the reader, is to find the middle ground between a hazy, theoretical or academic understanding of diversity that focuses on abstract concepts of identity, and a basic, crude, demographic classification system or mind-set around how individuals or groups behave by virtue of a specific characteristic. It is a particular viewpoint that deliberately does not aim to be definitive, but rather recognizes that diversity means different things in different contexts. This concept is introduced and explored, and then a case study — that of a young man who is deaf (or ‘Deaf’, from a cultural perspective) — is used to break down the many facets and components of who we are, and how our identity is formed. The learning around deafness is in many respects transferable. However, diversity is not just about individuals and their identity, as there is a social context and perspective whereby issues of power, oppression and inequality are evident. An approved mental health practitioner will need to bear in mind that their interpersonal encounters with service users have the potential to compound these factors within their assessments and choice of outcomes. Acting in a way that empowers service users, through collaborative and partnership working, can go some way to addressing this. Approved mental health practitioners must deconstruct the idea that issues of diversity or culture only affect a few people or minority groups, or that such groupings inevitably have the same experiences, beliefs or values and are affected in similar ways. Each assessment, and each individual service user is different — and it is this difference that needs to be explored.
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