As community-based mental health services evolve, there is increasing awareness of the restorative potential of community participation and of its importance in promoting social inclusion. Many mental health service users are stigmatized by the segregated services they use as well as by the negative attitudes commonly held in our wider society. This article reports on a participatory action research inquiry in Bristol, United Kingdom, which examined the positive impact of mainstream community participation on mental health service users' recovery and social inclusion and how service users' experiences informed joint planning between mental health services and the learning community to promote social inclusion. Focusing on the significance of inter-agency work and highlighting the value of micro-level knowledge of the daily challenges faced by service users, it identifies ways of improving access to mainstream services
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