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People who use adult mental health services are joining forces with health bosses to play a key role in improving future treatment and support.

A new Greater Manchester Adult Mental Health Service User Network (GM AMH SUN) has been launched, which will see people work directly with health managers to highlight what action needs to be taken.

The Network was formed by the Adult Mental Health Service Users Mental Health Sounding Board, supported by the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, and project managed by the SCNs Mental Health Network programme team.

A launch event in July (pictured above) was attended by the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and saw 200 people discuss how the Network should operate.

Challenged

From the attendees, around 40 people drawn from local groups across GM with real experience of living with mental health conditions will work together to identify what new services need to be introduced, how it should be done and then review their success.

Marsha McAdam has led the development of the Network. She has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and recurrent depression, and challenged managers at the Partnership to include “service users” – those who need treatment for mental health disorders – in their decisions.

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She said: “It is important this new Network supports the real voice of service users and we heard during the launch that many people are unhappy about the bad experiences they have received or witnessed happening to their family members.

“These things need to be said and expressed and our aim is to join-up the conversations happening in each borough about what is good and what is not so good about mental health services. The hard work starts now.”

Confident

The Partnership’s Chief Officer, Jon Rouse, who spoke at the launch, said it was “absolutely critical” mental health services were improved for people in Greater Manchester.

He added: “People who use mental health services need to be at the centre of the decisions we make to improve services.

“We’re delighted this Network has been launched and confident its members will work with us to make it a success. We need to do this properly.”

The launch event at the Werneth Suite in Oldham also saw speeches from people living with mental health conditions explaining why they felt their treatment could be improved, as well as presentations by Neil Thwaite, Chief Executive, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, and Dr Henry Ticehurst, Medical Director, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Photos by Javed Rehman