What are the 10 Principles of Mental Health Care?

While there are no universally agreed-upon “10 principles of mental health care,” mental health care typically aligns with principles that promote comprehensive and compassionate support for individuals.


Here are ten general principles often emphasised in mental health care: 


1.  Equitable Access & Holistic Approach: 

  • Individuals must have the ability to access specialist services that are the same quality, regardless of location or circumstance. This includes early access and preventative services. 
  • Mental health care should consider the person as a whole, addressing not only symptoms but also physical, social, and environmental factors. 


Ensuring all people have access to the same quality of care including early intervention care, that takes a holistic approach prevents an individual’s condition from worsening is a crucial principle of mental health care. Equitable access & taking a holistic approach to mental health care has been shown to result in mental health care that is not only efficient for the client but also for the community at large due to it being both in line with human rights requirements and being cost-effective. 


2.  Person-Centred Care: 

  • Tailoring treatment plans to the individual’s needs, preferences, and cultural background promotes engagement and positive outcomes. 


Effective mental health services must be person-centred and respond to the individual needs of their clients. This ensures the care clients receive is tailored to them and meets them where they are at in their mental health recovery.  


3.  Recovery-Oriented Care: 

  • Focuses on an individual’s strengths and goals rather than just symptom reduction, supports the journey toward recovery. 


The key features of Recovery-Oriented care include:  

  • Focusing on the needs of those who are using the mental health services rather than on the priorities of the mental health organisational 
  • Using language that reflects hope, optimism, recovery, and improvement 
  • Finding personal resonance with each person, allowing you to develop more meaningful conversations with those using the service 
  • Engaging people with a lived experience in decisions about diagnosis and treatment 
  • Engaging with not only the individual, but those around them such as, their carers, families and significant others 
  • Supporting clients in recovery to work across the social areas of health including areas such as: housing, social contacts, diet and exercise, and work. 


These factors create Recovery-orientated care. This practice puts emphasis on the individual effected by mental illness in decision making and increases overall autonomy and self-directed care. 


4.  Cultural Safety: 

  • Recognizing and respecting diverse cultural backgrounds ensures that mental health care is sensitive and inclusive. 


Ensuring cultural safety within mental health services is crucial for all individuals seeking support. However, it holds particular significance when addressing the needs of Indigenous populations, given their higher likelihood of experiencing psychological distress compared to the general population. Recognizing the profound impact of culture and community in the healing process cannot be overstated. This should also be reflected in those practicing within the mental health field. Clients should feel they are being represented in the workforce of those serving them. All these factors work to increase the client’s right to self-determination and create and maintain socially supportive structures. Such measures have demonstrated their effectiveness as protective agents against negative mental health outcomes. 


5.  Empowerment: 

  • Encouraging individuals to actively participate in decisions about their care promotes a sense of control and autonomy. 


It is critical that those seeking mental health care should feel a partnership between them and their providers. This partnership encourages clients to take an active participant role in their recovery. Empowering clients to take this active role of self-advocacy promotes autonomy and self-directed care which results in better outcomes for individuals living with mental illness.  


6.  Collaboration: 

  • Effective mental health care involves collaboration among various professionals, family members, and the individual to create a comprehensive support network. 


It has been shown that affective mental health care is made from collaboration. The partnership between practitioners, governmental bodies and those with lived experience of mental health conditions ensures that systems and structures used in mental health care are comprehensive.  

Collaboration works complimentary to a recovery-oriented framework as it utilises and validates the experiences of those affect by mental illness and encourages those individuals to actively engage with the mental health system to constantly improve its offerings.  


7.  Trauma-Informed Practice: 

  • Recognizing and addressing the impact of trauma promotes an environment that fosters safety, trust, and healing. 


Because those accessing mental health services are more likely to have experienced trauma in their lives when compared to the general population, it is critical; that this experience of trauma is expressed in the care being provided. All members of the mental health care system must incorporate their understanding of the role trauma plays in the lives of their clients to create an environment of care that is sensitive, secure and trustworthy. All this works towards strengthening the partnership between practitioners and individuals living with mental illness.  


8.  Evidence-Based Practices: 

  • Utilizing interventions and treatments supported by research and clinical evidence ensures the effectiveness of mental health care. 


All areas of mental health care must be founded on evidence and regularly revisited. Evidence-based care establishes a culture of continuous learning and improvement that evolves based on practice outcomes. The best available research and data acts as a base for the development of a consistent and comprehensive approach to mental health practice and is the definition of evidence-based practice.  



9.  Research, Evaluation, and Quality Improvement 

  • Having an evidence-based practice is impossible without research, evaluation and quality improvement, as monitoring, evaluating are the keys to improvement.  


It is critical that opportunities for research and translation of said research are prioritised to ensure that practitioners have access to the latest research that they can build their evidence-based practice on.  


10.  Well-Resourced Workforces 

  • To provide the quality of care that has been outlined workforces must be well-staffed and made up of well-trained individuals.  


For mental health care to be equitable, accessible, evidence based, collaborative, and provide recover-orientated trauma-informed and evidence-based care that promotes cultural safety it must be not only well staffed in quantity but also in quality. Having a well-trained and skilled workforce is essential to being able to provide the quality care our communities deserve.  



*It’s important to note that these principles provide a general framework, and specific guidelines may vary based on the context, mental health care setting, and evolving research in the field. 


At Celtic Training we love playing our role in training mental health providers and contributing to the principle of a well-resourced and trained workforce. If you want to find out more about how you can get involved in the Mental Health Movement head to our Mental health course page