About Our Members

Our members are user-led grassroots mental health groups and individuals with lived experience of mental ill-health, distress, or trauma. People can also join the network as a supporter.

You can find out more about the types of membership we offer and sign up here.

Our individual members with lived experience may be people who use or have used mental health services, often referred to as “service users”, or they may be people who are not engaged with services, either through choice or exclusion. They may identify as survivors of trauma, including traumatic experiences within the mental health system. They may be activists or community organisers, researchers, lived experience workers, or people otherwise involved in or with an interest in the lived experience landscape in mental health. When we talk about lived experience, we usually mean having direct, first hand experience.

Our group members are “user-led”, which refers to groups led by and for people with mutual lived experience of a particular issue or issues. They are by and for their communities, and these communities may be based on shared experiences, identities, or geographies.

Traditionally, the phrase “user-led groups” may bring to mind the idea of peer support groups or service involvement groups. In reality, the user-led “sector” is broad and diverse. Our member groups may not call themselves “mental health groups” but often work at the grassroots and community level to offer support – emotional, cultural, material, practical, financial, and much more – that seeks to meet community-specific needs and alter or alleviate social conditions that drive distress. Our member groups often do not see their experiences of distress and trauma as separate to other and multiple forms of marginalisation and oppression.

To understand more about grassroots, user-led groups (which range in form from unregistered collectives to small charities) and their place in the mental health world, read our piece on the crisis of user-led groups from World Mental Health Day 2019, our 2020 report “What Do User-Led Groups Need“, and our 2022 report “Funding Grassroots Mental Health Work“.

To find out more about our members, you can visit the members blog, watch videos of some of our user-led group members talking about their work in the context of COVID-19, or read profiles of the member groups we have funded.

Want to join the network?

Become an NSUN member for free and join a network of over 5,000 people and groups