Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust (GMMH) is under fire due to policy changes that are said to be limiting peer advocacy and service user involvement.
In January, GMMH published its latest service user and carer engagement policy (SCE), which changed the definition of “service user” to mean anyone who has been discharged from its mental health services within the last 12 months. Only they are allowed to be involved in decision making about GMMH services.
My first contact with Liverpool Mental Health Consortium (LMHC) was in February 2003, when I wrote them a very terse letter complaining bitterly that I had been unable to access a place at their national Snakes & Ladders Conference & denouncing them for exclusivity & poor communication.
Fast-forward 9 months, & they advertised a post with a person specification clearly stating that lived experience of mental distress was a ‘desirable quality’.
User involvement in professional education was pioneered in social work, where service user and carer involvement is required at all stages. Students, service users, carers and educators all strongly support such involvement and see it as a key way of improving the culture of practice.