In spring 2016, fifteen residents of the West Midlands, with lived experience, met for eight sessions of deliberation. Their task was to produce a set of recommendations for the West Midlands Mental Health Commission on how public services can be transformed in the context of a devolution deal for mental health and well-being.
Members of the Midlands Mental Health Commission Citizen Jury explore themes emerging from their deliberations
The West Midlands Mental Health Commission is examining evidence from the West Midlands region and beyond including people with mental health experiences, as well as the professional mental health practitioners and mental health organisations. They asked Shared Future CIC to undertake a range of engagement activities to support their findings.
The importance of involving people with lived experience in well-being and mental health policy-making is undisputed. However, there are still seldom opportunities for this to happen in a way that reflects the challenges of enabling citizens to navigate their way through this complex issue and then write meaningful recommendations.
“Often user involvement becomes tokenistic. Our Citizen’s Jury process was an exemplar of how to do this right. I was very impressed and like to commend Peter Bryant and all the people involved.”
Professor Swaran P Singh, Head, Mental Health and Wellbeing,
Warwick Medical School, and Commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Members of our diverse Citizens Jury came together in a highly participatory process before producing a set of building blocks that should underpin any future mental health system and a set of twenty recommendations, illustrated by their own personal stories.
The task for the group was to attempt to answer the following question:
‘How can public services be transformed, within current spending limits to build wellbeing, keep people mentally well and reduce the impact that poor mental health and wellbeing have on public services, the economy and communities in the West Midlands?’
Alongside the citizen jury we also ran a set of ‘Open Space’ events, which brought a wider perspective. Members of the citizen jury participated in these alongside health professionals, service users and members of the public. A separate report has been produced on the outcomes of the Open Space conversations and will be available shortly.
The Jury then reconvened and heard expert testimony and asked questions of those experts. After reflecting on all perspectives they had heard the members of the citizen jury produced their final recommendations. There were 20 recommendations in all, and they were prioritised in order of significance. The top four were:
Recommendation 1: Providing free mental health first aid training to everyone in the West Midlands to create health champions in the community (schools businesses, librarians groups, A and E, police public services) to understand and support people to reduce the overall cost of sickness and care e.g. trained librarians to be aware of young people’s mental health problems, to act upon a crisis situation with professional contacts at hand.
Recommendation 2: Create clearer access to services for all, which are well promoted e.g. 24-hour city centre drop in, e.g. one national logo and contact number, e.g. public safe spaces when in crisis.
Recommendation 3: Mental health staff attached to GP surgeries and other primary care and first contact settings to provide support to service users and assist professionals in better supporting their clients.
Recommendation 4: Early intervention services available at the first sign of mental illness to reduce cost of crisis based services.
After meeting with members of the jury the Commission has committed to take into careful consideration the detailed recommendations produced through this process and to meet them again. The Commission, chaired by Norman Lamb MP, former minister of state for care and support, is expected to launch its final report and recommendations in September 2016. It will make its final recommendations on:
- How public services can be transformed to reduce impact of poor mental health and wellbeing, within resources.
- How resources currently spent on mental ill health can be re-directed to keep people mentally well and enable recovery.
- Potential for, and content of, a devolution deal for mental health and wellbeing.
Information on the West Midlands Mental Health Commission