There is now an extensive literature describing the value of work for people with a psychiatric disability (Shepherd, 1989; Bennett, 1970; Wing & Brown, 1970; Pilling, 1988). Apart from financial gain the benefits of work can include social contacts and support; social status and identity; ‘normal’ non-patient roles; a means of structuring and occupying one's time; a sense of personal achievement and mastery and a criterion of recovery from illness (Shepherd, 1984). However, for many people with a long-term psychiatric disability the range of opportunity for work is often very limited, usually consisting of subcontract packing or assembly work. The provision of this repetitive and simple work satisfies a basic occupational need. However to a large extent it neglects the fulfilment of broader psychological and social needs. People with a vulnerability to experience periods of major mental disorder usually have more than just an occupational need; they also need to be in an environment which can provide the conditions that will actively assist in the promotion of a state of positive mental health.
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