The National User Forum on Mental Health, announced in 2000, was to be run by service users appointed within the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE). The national clinical director for Mental Health, Louis Appleby, held initial meetings with user groups which established their preference to be a part of integrated mental health reform, and laid out a programme of work linking in to other NIMHE initiatives.
The NIMHE has been working for some time to strengthen its involvement of service users and carers in its work. NIMHE commissioned a report from Health and Social Care Advisory Service to review service user and carer involvement in NIMHE. The resultant ‘Making a Real Difference’ (MARD) report (April 2005) made 20 recommendations to take forward service user and carer involvement in NIMHE. The main focus of the MARD Programme was in strengthening NIMHE’s own service user and carer involvement, ensuring good levels of involvement at national level, in its national programmes and regional work.
User groups have been involved in many individual elements of mental health policy, including legislation and, currently, the development of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme.
As we consider what is to replace the national service framework for mental health from 2009, we shall include service users in discussions and the resultant consensus.