05 Jan

National Survivor User Network (NSUN) Bulletin – 3 January 2017

network for mental health nsun

NSUN news

Wishing all our members the very best for 2017

Look out for a round up of our 2016 work in the next bulletin. We will also be letting you know what NSUN’s priorities are for 2017. It’s been yet another harsh year for individuals and groups who continue to fight for basic rights and survival. We have not yet completed a full review of our member groups but already we have documented 127 group closures over the last 18 months. The disappearance of vital community support will result in increased pressure on health and social care services. At the launch of CQC’s annual report, Chief Executive David Behan said that ‘the adult social care market was “approaching a tipping point”.

There have been some successes with local groups campaigning hard to save much needed support. For example, The Bridge in Harrow in May and the Manchester Deserves Better Campaign, supported by the Manchester Users Network, halted the closure of seven mental health services in October. Others are still battling decisions that have been made with little or no meaningful consultation.

Please do tell us about any local campaigns or threatened closures.

NSUN recruiting for new Trustees

Are you someone who has had experience of mental distress and/or using mental health services? Are you interested in being a Trustee with NSUN?  We are looking for up to three new Trustees to join the NSUN Board.
The closing date for applications is 5pm Thursday 12th January, 2017
For more information and how to apply, please click here.

Happiness study ‘lets austerity off the hook’, psychologists claim

The London School of Economics study ‘Origins of happiness: Evidence and policy implications’, led by Lord Richard Layard, published in early December, found that failed relationships and physical and mental illness were bigger causes of misery than poverty. NSUN co-vice chair Sarah Carr, comments in the Guardian article saying that Layard’s findings failed to reflect the realities of people who have experienced mental health problems. Read the full article here.

NSUN and over 160 other groups ask the Prime Minister not to abandon the Human Rights Act

We have joined 163 other organisations in signing a letter which was delivered to the Prime Minister on Human Rights Day earlier this month. You can read the letter here.


Any notions that power shifted massively to patients in 2016 are a fantasy worthy of a snow globe, take it personally from me – from Simon Denegri 30 December

Call for blogging contributors

Share experiences, suggestions and opinions with e-bulletin readers, website visitors and social media friends. To get an idea of the variety of topics and points of view, please visit our blogs section. To send a blog, please email the editor.

NSUN 10 years anniversary short film launched

The three minute edited version is now available. Watch it here.
The five minute version is also available here.
A big thank you to Flexible Films and Engage Visually for their creative and expert input and generous investment of time.


Another service user led group under threat of closure!

Sheffield City Council has withdrawn a grant of £10,500 pa – current funding comes to an end 31 March 2017.  The Mental Health Action Group Sheffield (MHAGS) provides a vital service to individuals who have suffered or are suffering from mental health issues.  MHAGS says that ‘After 25 years Sheffield City council see fit to axe this vital resource. With a long established legacy a whole community will be dispersed into isolation we feel this is totally unacceptable for the sake of saving the above figure members will be left to their own devices with this being a service user run organisation with no paid staff throughout the years we have saved local authorities an obscene amount of money that is incalculable.’

MHAGS are asking for signatories to support their campaign asking the council to  continue funding for the support they have been providing for over 20 years.

You can sign the petition here.


Posting on DPAC: Psychological impact of benefits sanctions

Helen McGauley, a trainee Clinical Psychologist from Lancaster University, is conducting research as part of her doctoral thesis about the psychological impact of benefits sanctions following the Work Capability Assessment process and what impact this had, if any, on peoples’ mental health and outlook. Helen McGauley is involved with Pyschis Against Austerity who DPAC and MHRN both work closely with.

If you have a diagnosed mental health condition? Have you experienced the Work Capability Assessment? Have your benefits been sanctioned because of this assessment? .

Helen is based in the North West but is willing to travel if necessary. She is able to help with travel costs up to £20.

Please email Helen McGauley for more information or to take part.


Bipolar research: which outcomes matter to you?

Would you like to take part in a project to help shape how mental health research is carried out? Would you like to help make sure that future research involving people with bipolar investigate the things that matter most to you? Have your say!

PARTNERS2 is a research programme at the University of Birmingham working to establish which outcomes are most important when carrying out research on bipolar. The research involves asking groups of people to vote online for the most important factors to consider when evaluating community mental health support for people with bipolar. Everyone taking part needs to vote twice so you must to be able to commit to taking part in two online surveys over a period of three months. Each round of voting will take up to one hour to complete. There will be a prize draw for £75 worth of shopping vouchers.

Interested? Please do get in touch to find out more by emailing the team.


Have you ever been detained by police under Section 136 of the mental health act in London?

In partnership with Mental Health Services the Metropolitan Police disability engagement and mental health team would like to examine people’s experience of section 136 of the Mental Health Act with a view to improving servicesin London

We would appreciate feedback from people who have been detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act in order to ensure that we provide the best care possible for all service users. Questions are generic and therefore anonymous.

There are 23 questions in this survey.


Call for Contributors

Augustus Stephens of Mad Tom Theatre is writing a new show based on the experiences of people with mental illness. Last year he created the five-star-rated show ‘Altered Minds, Altered Realities’ using a similar idea, but this year he is creating a show inspired by ‘Frankenstein’. For this he wants to talk to people who have experience of schizophrenia, OCD or bulimia to make the portrayals as real as possible.
If you are interested, please contact Augustus at augustusnds@virginmedia.com. Contributors will receive a free ticket to see the show.



Artheads began in 2007 as a collection of recovering addicts who felt the need to convey a message that there was ‘life after drugs’ and to further educate the public about substance mis-use. From the initial art exhibitions and gigs, they have now become an established group with a permanent venue in Bury St Edmunds.  It is a ‘not-for-profit’ voluntary organisation  for anyone with drug, alcohol and mental health issues through creativity and imagination. Artheads offer a wide range of creative art opportunities and music drop-ins and produce a lot of good art and music.

You can find out more here and watch their promotional video.


The Mental Health Foundation is recruiting for the following positions  – January deadlines

Policy and Development Officer (Refugees)
Location: Glasgow (with travel across Scotland, UK and abroad)
Salary: £27,000 per annum pro rata
Deadline: Wednesday 11 January 2017
We are looking to recruit a Policy and Development Officer for our Refugee and Asylum Seekers programme.

Senior Policy Officer
Location: London, SE1
Salary: £30,571-£31,857 per annum pro rata
Deadline: Monday 9 January 2017
This is a significant senior role in the Policy Team and involves day-to-day management of a portfolio of projects to meet the needs of the Foundations Policy Programme where you will support the Head of Policy & Research and Policy Manager.

Research Officer
Location: London, SE1
Salary: £28,000-£30,000 per annum
Deadline: Monday 9 January 2017
We are now looking to recruit an experienced and enthusiastic Research Officer to help support the development and delivery of the Foundation’s research programme.


Anxiety UK

Anxiety UK is a national registered charity  formed in 1970 by someone living with agoraphobia for those affected by anxiety disorders. Today they are still a user-led organisation, run by people with experience of living with anxiety or anxiety-based depression, supported by a high-profile medical advisory panel.

Anxiety UK has a list of self-help groups across the UK that you can download here and an infoline service that is operated by a team of dedicated volunteers and staff. Many of whom have personal experience of anxiety, stress or anxiety based depression and can offer practical advice and information on support services that are available.

Infoline: 08444775774
Text: 07537 416 905
Open: Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5.30pm (excluding Bank Holidays)


Living life beyond diagnosis – one day conference – London

26th January 2017 10.00 am – 4.45pm Registration from 9.30am at  Amnesty International, 17-25 New Inn Yard London, EC2A 3EA

This one day conference, supported by the BPS, provides an opportunity to explore the value of, and problems with, psychiatric diagnosis.

Using some alternative ways of understanding, and responding, to emotional crises without diagnosis as inspiration, the event will explore some of the challenging personal and social implications of moving beyond psychiatric diagnosis.

This is not a conference aiming for a single unified voice – it provides a welcoming space to explore these issues.

For a list of speakers and a conference flyer please visit this dedicated page


Eight people needed for McPin’s mental health and justice service user advisory group (SUAG) – London

McPin are looking for eight people with personal experience of mental health problems to join a London based Service User Advisory Group (SUAG) for a new study entitled ‘Mental Health and Justice’. The study is about understanding what legal and other support people with mental health problems need to lead full and independent lives.

If you would like more information please view the full advert here
Download the Application form here

Please email the completed application form to Thomas Kabir. The closing date for applications is  5pm on Friday 6 January 2017.


Share your experiences of accessing mental health services across the UK

What are your experiences of accessing mental health services? The Guardian wants to hear from people of all ages and backgrounds, across the UK, about any challenges you faced or help you received.

  • Were you able to access help as soon as it was necessary, or was there a waiting period?
  • If you had to wait, how did this affect you?
  • Were your concerns met by your GP?
  • Were you moved miles from home for treatment?
  • Or perhaps you want to thank professionals for looking after you.
  • What were the best aspects of your care?

To take part, please visit this page


Intersectionalities provides a forum to share knowledge and facilitate collaborative discourse amongst social work theorists, practitioners, educators, activists, researchers, and the community members they serve within local, regional, and global contexts. The journal seeks to promote social justice by providing a forum for addressing issues of social difference and power in relation to progressive practice, education, scholarly inquiry, and social policy.

Editorial: Destination Mad Studies PDF
Brenda A. LeFrançois, Peter Beresford, Jasna Russo



Four co-researchers needed – University of Birmingham

Flexible: up to 30 days on a consultancy basis, until 30.11.18

This is an exciting opportunity to work as part of a team of researchers from the Health Service Management Centre and the Third Sector Research Centre at the University, on a National Institute of Health Research funded project.

The project’s aim is to investigate the role played by the voluntary sector in delivering care to people experiencing mental health crises. The project leaders are seeking to recruit four co-researchers with personal experience of a mental health crisis to ensure that the research is grounded in lived experience.

to know more about the role and who to contact to apply, please visit this page


Join the University of Manchester’s focus group to discuss Advance Decisions

The University of Manchester are looking for people who have lived experience of self-harm and/or attempted suicide and are well enough to participate and talk about their experiences with others.

They are holding focus groups to discuss Advance Decisions under the Mental Capacity Act. An Advance Decision is a statement of instructions about what medical treatment you want to refuse in case you lose the capacity to make these decisions in the future.  In particular, whether an Advance Decision is valid when a person comes into hospital having self-harmed or attempted to take their own life.

The information will be used to develop guidance to help doctors make better decisions in these circumstances.

The discussion will be recorded and transcribed but you will remain anonymous.
If you are interested, please bear in mind that the discussion can be triggering.


Depression Research Engagement Events – London


  • 10th January 2017 9.30am-12.30
  • 27th January 2017 4.30pm-7.30pm

Venue: Tavistock Clinic, 120 Belsize Lane, London NW3 5BA

The events aim to engage people who have experience of mental health conditions and carers in discussing a recent research study carried out at the Tavistock looking at the effectiveness of psychoanalytic psychotherapy for treatment resistant depression. The event also seeks to engage service users in considering what sorts of research should be carried out in future by the Tavistock.


  • Dr Susan McPherson: An overview of findings from the Tavistock randomized controlled trial of psychodynamic psychotherapy for treatment resistant depression
  • Dr Anita Berlin: A GP perspective
  • Birgit Kleeberg: A psychotherapist perspective
  •  TBC: A client perspective

The events will involve taking part in a focus group to discuss your thoughts about the research, how it might or might not influence you as a practitioner, service user, carer or commissioner; and what type of research you think would be useful in this area in the future.

We welcome the sharing of all opinions and comments. Participants will also be asked to complete a brief online survey at registration, after the event and three months later.

Service users and carers taking part in the event and completing the surveys will receive a £20 high-street voucher to thank you for your time and can be reimbursed for up to £10 in travel expenses.

Any questions?
If you have any questions about the event before you register, please contact:
Dr Susan McPherson T: 01206 874143 E: smcpher@essex.ac.uk
Register here.


Supporting individuals affected by prescribed drugs associated with dependence and withdrawal

In October 2016 The British Medical Association wrote to Nicola Blackwood MP highlighting the devastating health problems caused by dependence on prescribed drugs. You can read the letter in the section ‘What the BMA is doing’

The BMA says

Prescribing of psychoactive drugs is a major clinical activity and a key therapeutic tool for influencing the health of patients. But often their use can lead to a patient becoming dependent or suffering withdrawal symptoms.

In the absence of robust data, we do not know the true scale and extent of the problem across the UK. However the evidence and insight presented to us by many charity and support groups shows that it is substantial.

It shows us that the ‘lived experience’ of patients using these medications is too often associated with devastating health and social harms.

You can read more about what the BMA are doing here.


Have you had, or care for someone with, cancer and experience of mental ill health? Share your story!

Macmillan Cancer Support is working to gather personal stories from people living with, or caring for someone with both mental health problems and cancer.

Cancer affects nearly 1 in 2 people during their lifetime, and mental health/emotional wellbeing problems affect 1 in 4 adults during any one year, so there will be lots of people out there with this dual lived experience.

Macmillan’s Mental Health and Cancer Taskforce aims to better understand the needs and ideas for change of people affected by both cancer and mental health problems.

For more information and a contact email please take a look here


In the news


Communities Fund

The government has announced a new ‘Communities Fund’ that will support projects aimed at developing local solutions and bringing together the community and local authorities to design and implement services in partnership.

The fund is worth £2.5 million and is open to applications from small grassroots community groups including neighbourhood organisations, parishes and local voluntary groups. Alongside grants of £70,000 or more, grassroots organisations will benefit from expert advice from the local government sector, training from a ‘grassroots network’ and advice on evaluating the success of their services.

Bids are due by 16 January 2017 and funding will be provided up to April 2018.

Launch of the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance

The Department of Health (DH), NHS England and Public Health England (PHE) are inviting applications from voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations to join a new VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance. The Alliance is part of the new VCSE Health and Wellbeing Programme. Through this DH, NHS England and PHE will work with VCSE organisations to promote equality and address health inequalities and help people, families and communities to achieve and maintain wellbeing.Closing date for applications is noon 22 February 2017. Find out more here.

New Care Model Vanguards

NHS England announces £101 million of new funding to support and spread the work of the new care model vanguards.

Organisations offered funding to deliver peer-led job clubs

Announced in the disability green paper and protested by disability activist groups, the ‘journey to employment’  (J2E) scheme offers funding to organisations to design and deliver peer led job clubs. For more details about the grant, the criteria to meet, a roll out calendar and who to contact please visit this page

Disability green paper consultation currently open

Consultation is open on ‘Improving Lives’, the green paper which disability activists have described as ‘unethical and cruel’. Don’t forget to take a look at the technical annex which accompanies the Green Paper.


Previously shared information available online

Please visit our website to find members projects, involvement opportunities, jobs and events we shared in previous e-bulletins. This includes our guides to support involvement in reducing the use of restraint in mental health settings.


#NSUNthrive10 campaign

It is 10 years since the ‘Doing it for ourselves’ service user conference in Birmingham.  It was at this conference in 2006 that the vision of the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) was taken forward, leading to funding in 2007 and becoming a fully independent organisation in May 2010.

We have survived!  To enable us to continue to connect, communicate and influence, we need your help. Please spread the word to help raise funds to continue our work through our #NSUNthrive10 campaign. You can also raise money by shopping online with the  Giving Machine. View and share our video here

Donate here