Ethics, Values, and Recovery in Mental Health Social Work Practice

Living reference work entry

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Part of the Social Work book series (SOWO)


Health care is bureaucratic and outcomes focused. It is influenced by market and political forces, as much as scientific ones, with friction between good practice and the neoliberal commodification of health services creating tensions. Decisions in health care are increasingly shaped by a myriad of “drivers and contingencies” against a backdrop of complex and conflicting values and ideas. Clinical governance, safety and quality, research and evaluation, cost-saving, and cost-efficiencies all intermingle to create a multifaceted working environment that needs to be agile to be responsive to people’s needs. It is against this backdrop, and in the growing complexity in all areas of health care, that recovery can be seen to enable the four core ethical principles (4Ps): respect (of autonomy), nonmaleficence (not doing harm), beneficence (doing good), and justice (treating people fairly). Our overall proposition is that the concepts and values that recovery drives, should be seen as central components to social work practice because it aligns with and complements codes of ethics, reinforces social work practice and standards, and enables better health and social outcomes.


Ethics Values of recovery Ethical practice Code of ethics Social work Mental health Recovery Lived experience perspective 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NSW Ministry of Health, University of NSWSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Social WorkMonash University, and Senior Research Fellow, Mental Health Service, St Vincent’s Hospital (Melbourne)MelbourneAustralia

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