Long-established Medico-Social Expert Commissions (MSECs) play a pivotal role in the Russian mental health system. They act as gatekeepers to pensions, rehabilitation, and employment services. This column describes their role in encouraging or impeding the social inclusion of people with mental illness, drawing on findings of a three-year project in Sverdlovsk Oblast. In Russia the emphasis remains on medical aspects of treatment, without adequate consideration of social and occupational rehabilitation. Links with local employment services are weak. To promote social inclusion, steps must be taken to encourage and facilitate cooperation and collaboration between the MSECs, employment services, and medical services
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