Opinion Former Article

Rethink: People with mental health problems helped to hold health services to account

Wednesday, 10 October - Four leading mental health charities are launching a guide today to provide practical advice for people with mental health problems and their families, on how they can have their voices heard in the mental health system and hold services to account.

The launch of No decision about us, without us comes on World Mental Health Day and is designed to encourage everyone to demand more from services and campaign for change in their local area.

The guide has been produced by the charities Rethink Mental Illness, Afiya Trust, Mind, NSUN (national survivor user network) and complements the implementation framework for the government’s mental health strategy, No Health without Mental Health.

While the strategy set out the government’s overarching aims and ambitions, the guide provides practical advice for the public on how they can ensure those ambitions are being translated into action on the front line. 

Paul Jenkins, CEO of the charity Rethink Mental Illness said: “Everyone involved in this piece of work feels strongly that people with experience of mental health problems are the real experts. They should not only be listened to, but seen as equal partners in making key decisions.

“Too often in the past, involving people who use services has been a tokenistic, box ticking exercise and it’s not good enough. Local communities should be listened to at all stages – from the very beginning when major decisions are being made about what kind of support is needed in an area, to giving feedback on existing support.

“We hope this guide will arm people with the knowledge they need to demand more and hold their local health and social care services to account. It’s not always easy, some areas are much better at listening to the views of the public than others. That’s why we’ve offered advice not only on how people can get involved through existing channels, but also how they create new opportunities to be heard if they feel they’re being ignored.”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “This guide comes at a critical time for mental health. The Government’s mental health strategy and implementation framework were positive steps, but we know far more progress needs to be made. Given the tough economic climate, now more than ever people need support to look after their mental health; last year calls to Mind's Infoline increased by 18 per cent and our local Minds helped over 250,000 people. Yet for the first time investment in mental health services has fallen this year and the NHS is going through huge reforms.

“This guide will help people use the mental health strategy as a lever to influence the new NHS systems, improve services and campaign for change, to ensure everyone with mental health problems gets the support they need and the respect they deserve.”

Sarah Yiannoullou, Managing Director of NSUN said: “This guide equips people with important information about how best to influence services and understand the recent changes to health and social care policy. NSUN is committed to ensuring that people are able to use their experience and expertise to positively influence services and put this guide into action. In this way ‘No decision about us, without us’ becomes meaningful.”

The group are today also launching a series of briefings, for six of the key organisations with a role in delivering the mental health strategy, including health and wellbeing boards, clinical commissioning groups and local healthwatch organisations.

You can download the free guide from Wednesday 10 Oct at:

http://www.rethink.org/how_we_can_help/our_campaigns/current_campaigns/no_health_without__1.html

ENDS

For more information, contact Rachel Whitehead, Media Manager for Rethink Mental Illness on 0207 840 3138 or email rachel.whitehead@rethink.org


Notes to editors

Rethink Mental Illness, Afiya Trust, NSUN and Mind are members of the Mental Health Strategic Partnership along with the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Helplines Partnership and the Centre for Mental Health


Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink Mental Illness is a charity that believes a better life is possible for millions of people affected by mental illness.

For 40 years we have brought people together to support each other. We run services and support groups that change people’s lives and challenge attitudes about mental illness.

We directly support almost 60,000 people every year across England to get through crises, to live independently and to realise they are not alone.

We give information and advice to 500,000 more and we change policy for millions.

For more information go to www.rethink.org

Mind

Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. Please note that Mind is not an acronym and should be set in title case. Mind’s Infoline is on 0300 123 3393 and the Legal Line is on 0300 466 6463. The helplines are open Monday – Friday 9am – 6pm. www.mind.org.uk


Rachel Whitehead
News and Media Manager, Rethink Mental Illness
0207 840 3138
Tweet me! @Rachel_Rethink

For information on our email policy, including confidentiality and viruses, visit http://www.rethink.org/emailpolicy

Rethink Mental Illness is the operating name of the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England Number 1227970. Registered charity no. 271028. Registered Office 89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TP.

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