A major issue in research, policy and professional practice is the social exclusion of carers, in particular carers for people with mental health problems. In order to address the issue of social exclusion from the perspectives of professionals, 65 participants were interviewed. The sample included directors, managers and senior staff from the social care, health and voluntary sectors. Respondents were asked to comment at length on the social exclusion of carers. Findings highlight four main types of exclusion: first, personal exclusions, including stigma; keeping mental health problems ‘a secret’; and taboos surrounding mental health care; second, social exclusions, such as isolation; narrowing of social networks; restrictions due to time commitments; exclusions relating to education, training, employment and leisure; and young carers; third, service exclusions involving carers being taken for granted and having difficulties with access to appropriate services; and fourth, financial or economic exclusions that lead to carers paying for care. This paper documents patterns of exclusion and draws out implications for research, policy and professional practice. In conclusion this paper also considers the ways in which professionals and services may better promote the social inclusion of carers for people with mental health problems in the future.