Developmental Approach to Mental Health

  • Antoinette LombardEmail author
  • Nontembeko Bila
Living reference work entry
Part of the Social Work book series (SOWO)


The developmental approach to mental health aligns social workers’ commitment to the services they provide with the need to promote a fairer and more inclusive society. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s vision is to leave no one behind – this is central to social work and lies at the core of mental health approaches. In the 2030 Agenda, mental health is associated with well-being, which is essential for human development. A developmental approach focuses on structural injustices that impede human progress and mental health. It is a holistic, human rights-based approach in which participation, social and economic development, micro and macro practice, and partnerships are equally important and are integrated to promote and protect mental health. The approach is in line with the new recovery-oriented human rights-based and strength-based approaches to mental health which position mental illness and mental health along a continuum of health and where service users’ participation is central. In keeping with a mental health recovery approach, a developmental approach uses social investment strategies and interventions on a continuum of micro and macro practice levels where service users’ rights, their participation, and social and economic development and inclusion are inherent to the process and outcomes. The chapter concludes that the developmental approach to mental health offers social workers a platform to promote and protect mental health on an individual, household, community, policy, and research level. Furthermore, in partnership with stakeholders, including service users, this approach to mental health contributes to sustainable development and promotes justice for all.


Developmental approach Mental health Leaving no one behind Recovery Human rights Partnerships Sustainable development 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social Work and Criminology, Humanities Building 10-21University of PretoriaHatfieldSouth Africa

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