– Isabela Vrba Neves, Communications and Member Engagement Officer
Mental Health has been getting a lot of attention lately in the UK, from the recent appointment of Barbara Keeley as Shadow Minister of Mental Health and Social Care, to Theresa May recognising, in her first speech as Prime Minister, the lack of mental health support available, both media and politicians have helped to slowly break down the stigma surrounding ill mental health by bringing it forward to the public eye.
However, this would not have been as successful without the work of the mental health voluntary and community sector (VCS), not only providing services and research, but also campaigning on awareness and the importance of good mental health.
Engagement with the voluntary sector has been key, equally with the government as well as with other organisations in the sector to tackle the challenges of ill mental health.
The organisations in the VCS have an important and influential role in helping shape government policies, priorities and services. This has been possible as they operate on the frontline of the issues, bringing their ideas and expertise to the table, addressing the injustices and improving service delivery in the sector.
The voluntary sector is able to work directly with communities and in certain cases get their participation in e.g. events and volunteer work, as well as get direct feedback on what needs to be done to improve services.
The sector provides a holistic and a whole-life approach care to people. They are an alternative to mental health trusts and local services who cannot always serve people due to limited funding, which has become a reality for many during these hard times.
Building a network with the VCS creates greater outcomes across different areas of work, e.g. fundraising, campaigning and raising awareness about the work taking place in the sector. Engagement with the voluntary sector helps build skills and knowledge for everyone involved, including organisations engaging with each other.
With a collective voice representing the sector for good mental health, working directly with service providers and users, the VCS is stronger together when raising the issues to policymakers and the public eye.
The core of MHPF is our national alliance of voluntary sector mental health providers. Together with our members and associates we form collaborative and cooperative partnerships across the sector to improve mental health provision.
We witness and value the unity of these organisations to improve the quality of care for people with mental health needs and the outcomes of services provided.
Working on the areas of sustainably, integration and prevention, MHPF focuses on supporting the delivery of services which makes a positive and demonstrable difference to people with mental health needs, and promotes innovation and works to shape and influence the growth of the voluntary and community sector.
Through engagement and collaboration, both the voluntary, public and private sector are more effective in delivering their work, and together they have got all the tools necessary for successful outcomes.