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What is Influence and Participation?

Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. We work hard to understand the needs and experiences of people with mental health problems.

This drives everything we do. So wherever we can, we look for opportunities for people with lived experience of mental health problems to get involved and guide our work.

“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.”

Mind's definition of lived experience influence and participation.

How can people influence and participate?

There are different terms for influence and participation, like service user involvement, engagement, co-design and co-production.

People can take part in our work in the following ways.


Influencing activities give people the opportunity to shape and develop our work. This includes deciding what's prioritised and how it's planned, delivered and evaluated.

This means people are influencing decision-making. It could be through completing a survey, taking part in a focus group, being in an advisory group, or leading a project.


Participation activities give people the opportunity to work alongside us in a practical way, to help us achieve our aims.

This might include volunteering at an event to share an experience of mental health problems, sharing a story as part of a training session, or supporting our online campaigns.


Leadership relates to the skills, experience, confidence and networks that people develop through influence and participation. Every I&P activity at Mind supports people of all backgrounds and identities to develop their leadership skills. The aim is for everyone to improve their wellbeing, develop career skills, and be able to contribute to other mental health work.

Why is influence and participation important?

At Mind, people with lived experience of mental health problems are at the centre of everything we do. This toolkit has been created to support others who are also looking to do this.

Mind recognises that people's experiences take many different forms. Therefore, as we plan, develop and implement our work, it's important we actively develop and promote opportunities for people to use their experiences and skills to influence our work.

We do this through lots of methods, including surveys, discussion groups, working groups and more. We listen to, understand and act on the views of a wide range of people.

Watch this animation for more information about influence and participation.

"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."

Principles of good involvement

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

4PI stands for:

  • Principles
  • Purpose
  • Presence
  • Process
  • Impact

Principles of good involvement, as defined by 4PI National Standards, are:

  • 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 differences 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.

You can find out more about the framework by visiting NSUN’s website.

Can your organisation commit to the principles above?

There are lots 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 use their skills and experiences to help us make decisions about our services.

All opportunities at Mind adhere to the principles of good involvement. Our ethos and approach are also demonstrated in our Influence and Participation Policy.

Download our Influence and Participation Policy.

Other ways to get involved

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