The remit of the opening chapter is to introduce the reader to the core underpinning themes, theories and research of approved mental health practice. As is the case throughout the book, readers are asked to reflect upon what it means to be an approved mental health practitioner. Here the author focuses on areas which as editors we feel are the foundation of approved mental health practice; the social perspective and independence. We were also mindful of the sociological and psychological influences that underpin the responsibility, whether consciously or not, and these are also introduced. No book on approved mental health practice can ignore the political context; the responsibility is sanctioned in legislation and based upon decisions that reflect a wider political environment. Devolved nations add to this complexity. The chapter, therefore, asks the reader to consider the impact of political decisions, in particular the opening up of the responsibility of approved mental health practice beyond social work. Mirroring a policy of the redistribution of mental health roles in England and Wales, this change was also based on research reporting the negative impact of approved mental health practice on social workers including high levels of stress and a ‘disappearing’ workforce. The chapter, therefore, asks the reader to reflect upon the influence of research. These themes, theories and research add to the uncertainty common to approved mental health practice and are revisited throughout the book.
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