As argued by Davis (1996), there is a component of risk assessment in most features of the task, from the decisions that influence the liberty of individuals and the amount of assistance and support they receive, to decisions about policy on resources provision. Social workers can only accomplish these assessments if they are capable of recognising the certainty of risk and to take into account their responses to it. Two such responses were identified by Davis (1996) as those of risk minimisation and risk-taking, asserts that “Risk-taking is... an essential element of working with mental health service users to ensure autonomy, choice and social participation. It is a means of challenging the paternalism and over protectiveness of mental health services” (Davis 1996: 114). Elements of paternalism and over-protectiveness are features of the condition of risk minimisation apparent in guidelines of care management, care programming (CPA), documentations of hospital discharges and supervision records which, if professionals are not cautious, could result in needless controls being placed on the liberty of individuals diagnosed as being a threat to themselves and to others (Tew 2005). This consequently curbs the likelihood of integrating individuals with mental illness in their communities. Social workers have to find a neutral ground between being overcautious by needlessly restricting the experiences of their own and of their clients, and being inconsiderate by putting themselves and others in excessive risk (Gitterman 2001).
Social workers are concerned with delivering the most favourable and beneficial mental health service for carers and service users. This suggests a service that is helpful, involves carers and service users in the process of decision making and is risk-free for all involved (Garlick 2007). Risk-free, effectual mental health services adopt a developed approach to risk, in