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Benefits for people and the organisation

There are benefits to involvement for everyone involved and we must always remember this is a two-way process.

Organisations and services will see benefits in their understanding of the needs and challenges being faced by people using their services, they will be able to plan more effectively and subsequently deliver services that people want in partnership with those that use them.

For people with lived experience of mental health problems, influencing and participating in projects or activities can help them to develop key skills, lead to increased levels of confidence and boost their self-esteem. Opportunities can often develop into leadership roles, jobs, teaching and training or peer mentoring. 

There are many more benefits, we have listed some below.

Paola's video

Paola talks about how working with people with lived experience of mental health problems has contributed to the work of Norfolk and Waveney Mind previously known as Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind.

"This is not about consulting people who use our services with a questionnaire or with some other kind of consultation exercise. It's about doing something together and that will create a sense of belonging and that's when you really feel engaged and you actually change things."

Benefits for organisations

  • Meaningfully engaging people in our work ensures it is informed by a broad range of experiences and will effectively meet diverse needs
  • Projects and services will be more effective at meeting the needs of a wide range of people
  • The organisation will become more representative of the diverse audiences that influence our work – this will be seen in the way they look, speak, and the methods they use
  • Their advice will be more insightful and more likely to benefit those who receive it
  • Their information will be more useful to the people who receive it and easier to understand
  • Their campaigning will be backed by better evidence and will ring true with more people
  • Their fundraising will demonstrate more clearly how donations transform more lives
  • The organisation will have more credibility with the general public, the government and with funders
  • Their staff and volunteers will be more connected to the everyday issues of living with a mental health problem
  • Their staff and volunteers will become more familiar with issues of multiple disadvantage and will be more confident in addressing intersectional discrimination

Benefits for people

  • It validates the experiences people have had and allows this experience to be used positively in order to make improvements in support and services
  • Helps people to practice existing skills and develop new ones, such as public speaking, leading and contributing to meetings and editing/reviewing documents
  • Taking part helps people to be more effective in their everyday lives and to be more able to contribute and feel connected to their local communities and national work
  • Sharing and talking about experience helps people to meet others, to make more sense of their experiences and develop their views
  • Feel valued and respected and challenging self-discrimination
  • Our projects and services, information, advice and campaigning will more effectively meet their needs
  • People who share their expertise to influence plans and contribute to work that is delivered often receive payment for their contributions
  • Racialised communities, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+) people, people with physical, sensory, cognitive impairments or learning disabilities, and other minorities feel better represented and more confident in engaging with us and seek support when they need it

Case study

Sheffield User Survivor Trainers (SUST) is a network of mental health trainers with lived experience of mental health problems and using mental health services. By sharing their experiences they are helping to develop services that meet people's needs.  You can read more about SUST here

Service users at Washington Mind told us that influence and participation had benefitted them in a number of important ways, including:

  • making them feel valued
  • giving them access to peer support
  • helping them to feel part of a 'community'
  • empowering them to 'see people, not problems'
  • feeling they were not being judged
  • feeling safe

Anthony's video

Anthony talks about the benefits he has gained from being part of the Mancroft Advice Project (MAP) project.

"I wouldn't have been able to obtain that job without gaining the confidence through talking to other people at MAP."

Other ways to get involved

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