People who use, or have used, mental health services in Wakefield are being called upon to help shape health and social care services.
The newly formed ‘Mental Health Reference Group’ is made up entirely of people who use, or have used, mental health services. They are working with health and social care staff to help shape services, ensuring they truly respond to the needs of people who use them.
Elaine, a founding member of the group, explained, ‘We hope to provide an interface between the South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust, the Wakefield PCTs, the council and people who use services. The group will provide opportunities for people who have used mental health services to give feedback to service commissioners and providers and to find out about opportunities to get involved in service development’.
Whilst the group already has 20 members and is steadily growing, they are keen to involve more people. Karen, another founder member, continued, ‘We’re still expanding as a group and the more people get involved the better. We all have different opinions and skills and it’s important to get a good mix of people that accurately reflects the diversity of people who use services. We will be a pro-active group in our own right, and it is early days – we are still developing.’
Users of services who join the group do not have to participate in involvement activities if they do not wish to, and can simply come along to the monthly meetings, it is a personal choice if they choose to get more actively involved.
‘Anyone can contribute to the group’, added Elaine, ‘It’s a very tolerant group where all shades of opinion are welcomed and it is a supportive atmosphere where people can feel safe to express views.’ ‘We’re all different’ Karen concluded, ‘with differing experiences and skills. We hope that it is these things that will help drive forward service user representation and that staff take the opportunity to benefit from our knowledge and experience’.
If anybody would like to get involved with the group they are encouraged to get in touch by phoning 01924 305760 or by emailing, advocacy@RichmondFellowship.org.uk