• Shona Sturgeon Department of Social Development, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.



Social workers traditionally offer emotional, social and financial support to people who are in distress or in crisis. Although the problems presented are usually problems in daily living, these clients often are suffering from a mental disorder such as depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder or substance abuse. These problems in daily living, rather than the symptoms of their emotional state or disorder per se, usually causes their distress and their need to seek help (WHO, 2001a). Sadly, their problems are also often exacerbated, or even caused, by the stigma and marginalisation experienced worldwide by those with mental disorders.It is important, therefore, that all social workers understand the complex relationships between marginalisation and mental health and mental disorders. This includes understanding the role of structural violence in relation to mental health. This article will discuss some of these relationships and aims to encourage social workers to be alert for and address these issues in their practice


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