NSUN network for mental health is an independent, service-user-led charity that connects people with experience of mental health issues to give us a stronger voice in shaping policy and services.

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Mental Health Strategy

No health without mental health

The Mental Health strategy, No Health Without Mental Health was launched in February 2011.

NSUN has produced a Mental Health Strategy briefing paper and facilitated members contributions to the Implementation Framework document.

On World Mental Health Day Wednesady 10th October 2012 an accompanying Guide 'No decision about us without us' and a series of six briefings briefings to help develop better local mental health services have now been published.

Read more below.

Mental Health Strategy Implementation Framework

The implementation framework of the government’s mental health strategy was launched 24th July promising parity with physical health and a cross-departmental effort to improve prevention and treatment of psychological conditions.

Turning the government’s ‘nothing about me without me’ rhetoric into a reality in health and social care services is a tough job that organisation’s like NSUN are struggling with.

NSUN is an independent, service-user-led charity that connects nearly 2,000 groups and people in England with experience of mental health distress to encourage service-user involvement and influence in commissioning and policy.

As part of that work we have gained places on influential policy and commissioning forums in the DH (Department of Health) not least in contributing to the implementation framework of the mental health strategy No health Without Mental Health launched today [July 24]. Though we welcome the promise of more attention on mental health staff and trustees of the charity thought long and hard before deciding to put our name to this document which, like any jointly produced work, is not everything we could have wished for. We have had to weigh whether remaining a critical friend in the tent or campaigning outside it is better for our members and the wider community.

In the New Year we used a Guardian article to criticise the fact that many government policies were not only failing to advance the strategy but were actually undermining its aims. For example the Department of Education’s decision to remove wellbeing and community cohesion from the Ofsted school inspection regime is in direct contradiction to the strategy’s call for more early intervention and education. Freed from these requirements many schools are shutting counselling services and nine out of 10 academies are serving their pupils junk food damaging mental and physical health with expensive consequences.

Whilst having criticised when appropriate NSUN has also sought to work constructively with government in efforts to improve the situation where we find allies. Standing up to government policies we believe damage mental health whilst seeking to increase the positive influence of service users in government is a difficult line to tread and so it was a tough decision to put our name to the No Health Without Mental Health implementation framework.

In the end we decided that the DH had given us a fair say, had incorporated many amendments suggested by us and our members and that we would be doing more harm than good to distance ourselves from it. That is not to say we agree with everything in it and much depends on whether it is actually implemented not least by other government departments including education and the Department for Work and Pensions in particular whose benefit changes are badly hurting many people with mental health conditions.

Crucially for this framework to make a real positive difference is for more power to be shifted to service-users so that they have control over their lives and recoveries through meaningful co-production of services, proper personal budgets and real involvement in decision making from the NHS Commissioning Board to local Clinical Commissioning Groups.

NSUN will monitor the implementation, partly through our new Mental HealthWatch scheme, whereby service-users get involved in their local scrutiny groups and share intelligence and good practice. If we find that ‘nothing about me without me’ is indeed just empty rhetoric we will not hesitate to withdraw our support and campaign vigorously against those who have wasted a valuable chance for progress.

Implementation Framework

It has never been more important for people who use mental health services, carers and the public to be able to influence local services and hold decision makers to account.

The Framework is a useful tool for people wanting to be heard and involved in their local area’s plans. It points to practical ideas for health, education, criminal justice, employment and other types of bodies and services to put into place to support better mental health.

Download the Implementation Framework here.

No decision about us without us guide

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.

Download the guide here.


Mental Health charities launch guides to improve local mental health services

A partnership of leading mental health charities has launched a series of six briefings on World Mental Health day to help develop better local mental health services. Following the publication of the implementation framework for the Government's mental health strategy, these briefings set out the steps that local authorities and NHS commissioning groups can take to improve mental health care, treatment and support.

The briefings explain in practical terms the ways that the new Clinical Commissioning Groups, Local Authorities, Directors of Public Health, Overview and Scrutiny Committees, Local Healthwatch and Health and Wellbeing Boards can make sure that there are good quality mental health services in their local area as well as improving mental health and wellbeing for everyone in the community.

The Mental Health Strategic Partnership, which is led by the Mental Health Providers Forum, also comprises the Afiya Trust; Mental Health Foundation; Mental Health Helplines Partnership; Mind; National Survivor User Network; Centre for Mental Health and Rethink Mental Illness.

Download the briefings here.


Read NSUN's comment to the Federation of Disabled People

The comment is here.

User-led groups have welcomed a new government mental health strategy, but fear that spending cuts put its success in doubt.

The new cross-government strategy, No Health Without Mental Health, pledges “parity of esteem between mental and physical health services”, with a focus on “early intervention and prevention” and services for children and young people.

The strategy also focuses on reducing the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health conditions, including support for the Time to Change anti-stigma campaign.

Sarah Yiannoullou, manager of the National Survivor User Network, said the initial reaction from mental health service-users and survivors had been to welcome the focus on children and young people, and a more “preventative approach” that would ensure the emphasis was “not just on crisis management”.

But she warned that self-help groups, survivor groups and small voluntary and community organisations that had helped with preventative support were having to close due to funding problems.

She added: “There is such a conflict between what is being said in the strategy and people really believing that this can be delivered in the current climate.”

She said the network was also disappointed with the government’s lack of emphasis on service-users “leading the agenda”.

She said: “We did have some input but at a distance. DH is still going to the large charities, but service-user led organisations need to be there as well.

“There are a lot of issues that only people currently accessing services will be aware of. We need to bridge that gap.”

The government also pledged to introduce legislation later this year to repeal section 141 of the Mental Health Act, which says that MPs who are sectioned for at least six months must lose their seats.

Mark Harper, the Conservative minister for political and constitutional reform, who campaigned for the law to be scrapped in opposition, said section 141 “sends out entirely the wrong message that if you have mental health problems your contribution is not welcome in public life”.

The strategy also allocates £400 million to pay for 1.2 million more people across England to receive psychological therapies over the next four years. This should mean 3.2 million people will use such services between 2011 and 2015.

The Mental Health Strategy, No Health Without Mental Health, setS out six key objectives to improve mental health in England and the lives of people with mental health problems:

  • More people will have good mental health and fewer people will develop mental health problems
  • More people with mental health problems will recover a good quality of life
  • More people with mental health problems will have good physical health fewer will die prematurely, and more people with physical ill health will have better mental health
  • Fewer people will suffer avoidable harm
  • More people will have a positive experience of care and support wherever it takes place
  • Fewer people will experience stigma and discrimination

Paul Burstow has signalled a new, equal emphasis on mental health outcomes in assessing quality of NHS and social care. The new strategy will expect patients’ mental health to be considered alongside their physical health outcomes following NHS treatment.

The Call to Action has been published along side the strategy.

Other links:

Read a write up of the Mental Health Strategy launch event here.