Involving service users

This page introduces the role of service users in commissioning and providing services for people who have a serious mental illness. Follow the links to these areas in the toolkit to explore themes that have been identified by people with lived experience as important issues.


Listening to the service users and carers – often referred to as ‘service user voices’ – is critical in understanding the causes of premature death in people living with serious mental illness (SMI), including risk factors and social determinants. Their perspectives must be incorporated in the design, delivery and evaluation of recommended activities in order to improve the opportunities for closing the mortality gap for this group of people.

There is a contradiction in the aspiration to support individuals to self-manage their physical health in a system that is often described as prescriptive and focussed on risk, symptoms and treatment. The need for policy makers, commissioners, providers and service users to continually work together to address these issues is as relevant to physical health outcomes as it is to mental health. Mental and physical health should not be treated separately. When an individual’s mental health suffers, so does their physical health and vice versa.

Involving service users and people who have experienced mental health and physical health concerns will help achieve healthcare that can effectively respond to the needs of seriously mentally ill individuals.

Key themes for change and suggested solutions

Examples of important issues identified by people with lived experience to consider when commissioning and providing services:

  1. The medical model
  2. Giving essential information: lack of essential information
  3. Creating supportive environments
  4. Improving access to services
  5. Co-production: involvement and influence
  6. Care planning and self-management
  7. Meeting diverse needs

These key themes are important target areas to help achieve optimal mental and physical health outcomes for individuals with serious mental ill health. They are consistent with the key principles set out in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.

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