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Site last updated  24.4.18 CS

Welcome to The Mental Health Forum

For information on our Activities and Awards please CLICK HERE

For Membership enquiries please CLICK HERE

For Member Registration please CLICK HERE

 

What is The Mental Health Forum?

The Mental Health Forum was established in 1993 as a means of communicating mental health service user opinion to service providers and receiving information from service providers. Since that time the Forum has become the official voice of the service user community within the Southern Health & Social Care Trust.

We provide advice, information and signposting for service users, carers, professionals and the general public in relation to mental health services  throughout the Trust area.

We engage directly with service providers in planning, delivering and monitoring mental health services both locally and regionally.

 

 

We are leaders in:

  • Promoting awareness of mental health issues
  • Challenging stigma and discrimination
  • Promoting recovery orientated practice and initiatives
  • Developing opportunities for those experiencing mental ill health and those who care for them
  • Working in coproduction to improve mental health services
  • Providing access to advocacy support services

Who can be a member of The Mental Health Forum?

Any Mental Health Service User residing in the catchment area for The Southern Health & Social Care Trust may become a member if they are aged over 18, have present or past experience of accessing statutory services for their care, and uphold the Group agreement.

 

Although, not necessarily able to become members themselves, a supporter or carer is welcome to attend with a member if necessary.

Why does The Forum call itself   'The voice of service users'?

Meeting around our table, participating via email and sitting as equals on many Trust and Regional working groups, we offer feedback, expertise and opinion on a wide range of mental health related issues within The Southern Health and Social Care Trust. We greatly value this opportunity for collaboration in the planning and delivery of services. As service users we offer perspective from our lived experience of mental illness and services; that voice reaches and influences the highest levels of planning, policy making and provision within The Trust as well as feeding into consultations on legislation and other major issues around mental health. The Service user voice is at the very heart of all decision making relating to the quality of service and experience.

What happens at the regular information exhange meetings?

It is important to us that our meetings are member-led and that those in attendance be free to contribute as much or as little to the proceedings as they wish. There is no judgement at The Forum and details of a person's illness or circumstance need not be discussed because our group functions on mutual trust and peer support.

 

We come together to discuss mental health issues, listen to invited guests and exchange information; we receive updates on projects, policies, plans or legislation that may affect mental health service users and offer opinion and feedback where appropriate. We also learn of new support and recovery resources or training that become available. Many of our members sit on other committees and work streams and feedback relevant information. Access to peer support and advocacy services is available at every meeting and every effort is made to satisfy requests for information. Tea, coffee and biscuits are provided and conversation is usually animated and engaging without dipping unnecessarily into jargon or clinical language.

 

Our Forum has it's own lending library in Trasna House Lurgan made up of contributions from members and the books cover a wide range of mental health and general wellbeing topics - there is opportunity at the monthly meetings to borrow or exchange books free of charge.

                                         

No two meetings are ever the same and we work hard to strike a balance of content that makes them enjoyable and helpful - new members are always welcome!!

Are there membership fee?

There are no standing membership fees for The Mental Health Forum,

however some social activities may require individually calculated payments to cover basic expenses.

Am I expected to attend

at every meeting?

Life circumstances can get the better of us all at some time or another - No - you are always welcome but missing the odd meeting will not affect your membership.

If you feel unable to attend alone because of a shift in your condition you are welcome to bring a supporter. For records, we do ask everyone to sign in at meetings but, as a member, even if you can't attend you will always receive full minutes by your chosen contact method. If you are unable to attend in person but have an issue you would like raised at the Forum you can contact us and we will do our best to table it on the agenda.

What happens between regular membership meetings?

The Mental Health Forum remains fully active between our monthly meetings. Information on mental health issues locally and nationally is exchanged by email along with recovery resources, training opportunities and Trust updates. As our main purpose is to act as the voice of service users, we will also send out by email copies of documents, posters, forms, policies and strategies etc. for member feedback as they come to us - some require more detailed feedback than others but everyone contributes what they can by adding their anonymised voice to the collated response. The various working groups of the Trust meet throughout the month so our members are deeply involved there and we also try to have at least one opportunity to meet socially. Occasional mental health related events such as awareness days, fundraisers, launches or conferences take place and our members are often invited to attend. Our members will be involved in all activity associated with the Recovery College.

What is the Business Group?

Service users & Carers directly involved in Co-production workstreams locally and regionally with Southern Health & Social Care Trust will come together for information sharing, planning, capacity building, and support.

 

If you are not yet a member of The Mental Health Forum Business group and you are interested in learning more about Co-production and how you can personally conrtribute to positive change in mental health services - Click HERE or Telephone: 02830 252423

 

  • This is about using your lived experience as an asset...You already have something very valuable to contribute and the Forum Business Group will provide and signpost to additional skills and opportunities that will help you become more knowledgeable, confident, and able to direct your passion into improving the experience of others in mental health services.
  •  
  • You have options - Not all opportunities are long-term or have a high time demand, so you will be able to select from opportunities, the pieces of work that best suit your life/work balance and your condition management or caring commitments.
  •  
  • The Business Group meetings are part of a larger Capacity Building Programme designed by The Mental Health Forum to inform, support and mentor at a pace that is comfortable and achievable.

What is the Social Group?

Forum meetings have dedicated space for free discussion, social interaction and peer support and this year our members developed a specific internal group to build on this. Our organisation seeks to combat social isolation for those living with mental ill health, and encourages and supports the activities of our membership’s social group.

 

These social activities, organised and attended by our members, also build confidence, selfesteem and interpersonal skills - all of which can be severely challenged by illness and associated difficulties. The Mental Health Forum Social Group has its own planning structure and sets a calendar of events to meet expressed needs. Coffee shop gettogethers, meals out, and entertainment are open to all members of the Forum and can be subsidised by dedicated fundraising. 

Is the Forum run by the Trust?

No -The Mental Health Forum is an independently constituted organisation registered with The Charity commission for Northern Ireland.

 

We work very closely with the Trust and also with other mental health groups but in order to be a credible voice for service users in this area our independence is crucial. Our Management team contains no Trust employees and although some Trust employees may attend in a voluntary capacity as support staff, as members or as visitors, they respect appropriate boundaries and honour the group agreement at all times.

Is there lots of jargon to deal with?

We try to limit the use of jargon, acronyms and clinical language in our meetings and in all related groups our members are involved with. 

If you do encounter any such language know that its perfectly OK to challenge/ask. Our Handy Jargon Buster Page may also help.

What if I'm feeling vulnerable?

When attending, members can actively participate as much or as little as they feel able on the day - no one will pressure you into any situation that feels unsafe or uncomfortable. In fact, we have worked together to develop a Group Agreement that ensures our meeting space is a safe and comfortable environment. If you attend a meeting feeling vulnerable and find yourself overwhelmed in any way, it is perfectly OK to slip out and take some private time or some fresh air. Access to peer support and advocacy services is also available at every meeting.

Thanks for your interest - Keep scrolling - We've loads more to tell you

How long do the meetings last?

We open our regular membership meetings at 6.30pm and formally close around 8.30pm. The room is cleared as members begin to leave and the building is usually locked up by 9.00pm. Business group meetings length varies according to agenda but are usually around 2 hours long. Social group meeting length is set by the group itself and varies according to need.

But I'm not interested in joining any other workstreams or committees...

That's perfectly Ok - although some of our members have associations with charities or groups/committees in the field of mental health this is not assumed. From time to time opportunities to be further involved may arise and will be put before the group but participation is always voluntary.

 

Members who do contribute in these other groups feed back to the Forum and carry our views into them so you will still get updates and have a voice. 

Any Member expressing interest in activity at this level will be given as much information as possible, supported in accessing the reccommended training courses, and in the participation itself.

Can I come to one meeting - just to see what it's like?

Potential members can join us on the first Monday of the month at Trasna 6.30pm (second if bank holiday) Click HERE to connect first and ask your questions. You can sign in and enjoy the meeting without any pressure and if by the end you feel it's something you'd like to be part of, then you can give us your details and we will make sure you start to get your member updates and copies of the meeting minutes/agenda. We will answer any questions you may have and

give you our contact information.

It is worth bearing in mind however that no two meetings are ever the same.

If you are not a potential member but wish to engage or observe in some other capacity, we would ask that you contact us first to make arrangements.

 

You can also attend a Social group meeting to see what it's like - 

If you enjoy the experience and wish to continue attending, you can do so with or without regularly attending the information exchannge meetings. Only members can join the Social group so you will be asked to complete a registration form.

I was a member a long time ago. Can I return to Forum meetings?

That would be great!! - We'd love to see you at the meetings again - your lived experience is highly valued. You can come along at any time without need to get in touch however, if you want to talk to someone beforehand just contact Elaine. A copy of the previous month's minutes can be sent through so you are up to speed.

I'm very unhappy with services or an organisation - is the Forum a good place to voice my frustration?

You are a member and your wellbeing matters to us; we will support you.

The Forum welcomes member experiences and will happily discuss the principles, however we as a group are not usually in a position to explore specifics of personal experience there and then in open meetings.

(Neither would it be appropriate under our group agreement to do so.)

 

Our Forum provides access to Service User & Carer support and advocacy services

and we can faciliate anonymous or direct comment to The Southern Trust.

Is there wheelchair access to the meeting space?

Yes - the meeting space, toilet facilities and car park area at Trasna House in Lurgan are all suitable for wheelchairs.

Monday nights don't suit me...

Our Monday night meeting time is well established and unlikely to change - Ideally you'd be at most of these meetings. If you would be able to attend even a few a year we will keep you up to date with what's been happening in all the others, and of course you would still be involved in all opportunities our Forum has to contribute opinion and feedback by email. There may also be some occassional social opportunities between meetings which fall on weekends or different evenings. You would also be notified of external mental health related events or training opportunities so it would be easy to stay connected

I don't consider myself a service user anymore - Am I still about to join the Forum?

Yes - You are definitely still welcome - your lived experience is valued.

We are aware that some people will have different definitions of the term 'Service User' and that is perfectly OK. For purposes of our group, members need only have a mental health diagnosis and have accessed some kind of care for that condition via statutory services, even if now discharged and self-managing with the assistance of a GP. Not everyone sitting around our table regularly visits a Consultant or has a Keyworker, not everyone is living with a recent diagnosis. It doesn't matter how long ago you got your diagnosis or how you now choose to manage your condition; it is this very diversity that makes us such a strong and credible voice when we engage with Services or other Organisations - Come along and be part of it.

 

Your lived experience does not have to be current to allow you to get involved in the Co-production workstrems via our Business Group.

How are The Mental Health Forum & UCSIG connected?

UCSIG stands for "User and Carer Service Improvement Group" and it is a group comprised of service users, advocates, trust staff, carers, voluntary groups etc who meet to discuss a wide range of mental health related topics within The Trust; this opinion and feedback then feeds directly to Divisional management level and so can and does influence policy and practice. Our Forum is the vital Gateway through which information, queries, opinion and feedback filter into UCSIG and

to Divisional management.

 

The User and Carer Service Improvement group and The Mental Health Forum are links in a chain that allows the Service user voice to reach the ear of Senior Trust management, and indeed provides a way for them to directly engage with or consult their Service users. This engagement is at the heart of all planning and provision within Southern Trust Mental Health Services.

Who runs this website?

This website is the sole property of The Mental Health Forum and was conceived, designed and created by Forum members; there is a dedicated Service user led team of volunteers that maintains it but the whole Forum has a say in content and development.

 

We are particularly proud that our website demonstrates the potential of partnership working by welcoming interaction with professionals, carers, community & voluntary services, Forum members and other service users to develop the resources made available here. The valued contributions and feedback of you, friends of Our Forum, help to drive the evolution of this website.

 

Awards

PCC Community involvement award December 2013

 

The Mental Health Forum, NIAMH and CAUSE won the Patient and Client Council Community Involvement Award for their  ‘Recovery in Action’ DVD project.


Photo:

Maeve Hully, Chief Executive, Patient and Client Council; Councillor Martin Reilly (third from right), Mayor of Derry City Council; with representatives from the ‘Recovery in Action’ project Gordon Higham, Rory Cush, Caroline Ferguson, Arlene Wilson and Karl Hughes. SHSCT Photography.

Southern Trust Excellence award for Partnership Working

May 2014

 

 

Photo -Winners of all categories pictured at the ceremony in The Civic Centre, Craigavon.

The winning DVD "Recovery in Action" may be viewed HERE

SHSCT Photography

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