The National Survivor User Network (NSUN) is a network of people who have and do experience mental distress who want to change things for the better. NSUN connects people and influences policy, practice and perceptions by amplifying the experiences and aspirations of our members.

The network was set up to build a more united and confident mental health service user movement comprised of community based and user-led local groups. It didn’t aim to be a “one voice” of survivors and acknowledged that groups can have different views to one another on topics in mental health. It recognised the isolation, discrimination and disadvantage experienced by mental health service users and their needs beyond clinical treatment.

What we have achieved

  • 2003 On Our Own Terms report makes a recommendation to form a national service user/survivor network
  • 2006 The ‘Doing It For Ourselves’ survivor and service user conference launches the idea of National Network and a Steering Group is set up to make it happen
  • 2007 NSUN is launched after securing funding for five years
  • 2008 NSUN is hosted by Together for Mental Wellbeing and shares accommodation with Catch-a-Fiya
  • 2010 NSUN becomes an independent organisation/charitable company
  • 2011 NSUN holds its first annual general meeting
  • 2012 NSUN secures a further three years funding
  • 2013 NSUN attracts over 2000 members
  • 2014 NSUN hosts the IIMHL Service User Leadership and Peer Support festival
  • 2015 The 4Pi National Involvement Standards are published and launched
  • 2016 The NSUNthrive10 campaign is launched
  • 2017 NSUN increases membership to over 4500

In 2003 service user-led research, coordinated by Jan Wallcraft for the User Survey Steering Group and funded by the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, resulted in the report ‘On Our Own Terms’. It urged the formation of a national network to bring individual mental health service users and groups together to encourage good practice and build the capacity of the sector. Inspired by this report, the Sainsbury Centre funded a number of meetings and a conference in London in 2005 to agree on some practical actions based on the recommendations.

A Steering Group organised a conference focused on how to set up a national service user/survivor network. Nearly 200 service users and survivors attended the “Doing It For Ourselves” conference in Birmingham in March 2006. The National Planning Group that grew out of the conference included representatives from a whole range of service user and survivor led groups.

Funding for five years was obtained from Comic Relief and the Tudor Trust and a hosting arrangement was negotiated with the mental health charity Together for Mental Wellbeing. NSUN received invaluable support with financial procedures and human resources but remained self governing throughout the initial three years. The National Planning Group was then dissolved and replaced by a management committee, selected by an independent panel of service users and survivors. A launch conference was held November 2007 in Poole, Dorset.

The mission, aims and objectives remain the same today.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of the service user/survivor movement as a whole, visit the Survivor History Group website.