BACKGROUND Contemporary mental health policies require family inclusion in the design, implementation and evaluation of services. MATERIALS This scoping review considers the factors in mental health practice which either mediate or promote family inclusion. A wide range of factors are reported to obstruct family inclusion, while a smaller number of studies report that meaningful family inclusion rests on a partnership approach which values the input of families and services users. DISCUSSION When it comes to family inclusion, there is a gap between policy and service delivery practice. Changes in service delivery attitudes, values and culture are necessary to meaningfully and systematically include families and service users.