What is social inclusion? A thematic analysis of professional opinion.

Objective: Social inclusion is increasingly recognized as an important contributor to positive mental health outcomes, particularly for people with mental illness. There is a lack of consensus regarding what it means to be socially included and what the key contributors to social inclusion may be. The aim of this investigation was to determine such key contributors, as identified by those with professional experience. Method: A thematic analysis of literature regarding social inclusion was conducted to obtain the opinions of professionals regarding key contributors of social inclusion. Seventy-one pieces of literature were reviewed: peer-reviewed literature (academic literature regarding social inclusion in general [n = 25] and social inclusion and mental illness [n = 26]), and gray literature (organizational reports [n = 20]). Within- and between-groups analyses were performed to determine group differences and increase understanding of which contributors were deemed important consistently across groups. Results: A comprehensive list of 90 contributors to social inclusion and exclusion was compiled, categorized into 13 domains based on commonalities. Contributors related to employment and education, housing and neighborhood, and social activities and support were highly cited. Differences were observed between-groups regarding specificity of contributors, with organizational reports reporting more detailed contributors. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: A comprehensive and specific understanding of social inclusion was obtained. This improved understanding will allow for better measurement of social inclusion which will assist in evaluating programs and interventions, identifying areas of greatest need, and in planning services, policy and strategies to target specific contributors proven to improve social inclusion and subsequent mental health outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)