Ideas of mental illness and health are constructed and reproduced in different historical epochs and are contingent upon social, political and economic factors.The concept of discourse is central to theories about how mental health professionals think and behave.A number of sociological ideas, notably social causation, societal response, social construction and social realism help reveal the social contexts of many mental health problems.Aspects of these sociological ideas can be used to explore the interface between the identities of individuals and communities, and how processes of diagnosing and labelling occur.New ideas on social capital can help practitioners consider more holistic approaches to dealing with the mental health needs of individuals, families and communities.There is a need for practitioners to commit to a more critical, reflexive approach to understanding relationships of power between professionals and service users.
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