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What is Influence and Participation?

Mind is the leading mental health charity working in England and Wales. We work hard to understand the needs and experiences of people with mental health problems. This drives everything we do, and, wherever we can, we actively seek opportunities for people with lived experience of mental health problems to get involved and guide our work.

Mind defines ‘lived experience influence and participation’ as:
“The development and promotion of opportunities in order that a diverse range of people, with lived experience of mental health problems, influence and participate in our work. This recognises that people want to take part in a variety of different ways and there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach.”

"When I joined Time To Change I was unemployed, bored, lonely, depressed. I'm now married, I have just completed a clinical psychology degree, I've helped run an event, I've trained volunteers, I've given speeches next to important people. There is no end to the benefits I've had from this end."

We call this process Influence and Participation, however many terms have also been used including Service User Involvement, Engagement, Co-design and Co-production. We think about how people can take part in our work in the following ways:

Lived experience influence

Initiatives and activities within this category give people with lived experience the opportunity to shape and develop our work; this includes what is prioritised and how it is planned, delivered and evaluated. In other words people are influencing decision making. This could be through completing a survey, taking part in a focus group, contributing to decision-making on an advisory group or leading a project.

Lived experience participation

Initiatives and activities in this category give people with lived experience the opportunity to work alongside us in a practical way to achieve our aims. People might volunteer at an event sharing their experience of mental health problems, share their stories as part of a training session or support our online campaigns.

Lived experience leadership

This relates to the skills, experience, confidence and networks that people can develop through influence and participation activities. Every influence and participation activity at Mind should support individuals of all backgrounds and identities to develop their leadership skills in some way. The aim is that everyone has opportunity to grow through their influence and participation experience at Mind which supports their wellbeing, career development and ability to effectively contribute to other mental health work nationally and locally.

For Mind, this means that people with lived experience of a mental health problem must be at the centre of everything we do. This toolkit has been created to support others who are looking for support to do this as well.

Mind recognises that people's experiences can take many different forms therefore as we plan, develop and implement our work, it is vitally important we actively develop and promote opportunities for people to use their experiences and skills to influence our work. This must be via multiple methods including surveys, discussion groups, working groups and more. We must listen to, understand and act on the views and opinions of as wide a range of people with experience of mental health problems as we can.

Lived Experience Influence and Participation

Watch this animation for more information about Lived Experience Influence and Participation.

Principles of good involvement

Mind has signed up to the 4PI model, a framework for meaningful involvement developed by a partnership of organisations, hosted and led by National Survivor User Network (NSUN).

4PI stands for 'Principles; Purpose; Presence; Process; Impact' – you can find out more about the framework by visiting NSUN’s website.

Principles of good involvement as defined by 4PI National Standards – Involvement for Influence:

  • Inclusivity, equality of opportunity and fairness
  • Clarity and transparency
  • Listening to each other with respect and openness
  • Sensitivity about language and actions, an understanding that there are different ways of expressing and doing things
  • Support for race equality and a commitment to challenge discriminatory practices
  • An open-minded approach towards cultural differences and diversity in ways of working
  • Acknowledgement of the power differentials that exist between people, and a commitment to minimise them wherever possible
  • A commitment to change in response to the views of service users and carers

These principles are the basis of all good quality involvement work.

Can your organisation commit to the principles above?

There are a variety of ways people with lived experience can take part in our work at Mind. Some of these offer people the opportunity to participate in our work and help us achieve our aims. Others help us to shape current and future work, where people taking part use their skills and experiences to help us make decisions within our services and the organisation. All opportunities at Mind adhere to the principles of good involvement. Our ethos and approach to the principles are also demonstrated in our Influence and Participation Policy.

Download the Influence and Participation Policy here.

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