Volunteers share their views with Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care

Posted by See Me, 26 August 2021

A group of people with experience of mental health problems are helping to shape the future of services in Scotland after meeting with Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care Kevin Stewart MSP.

The new Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care is putting lived experience front and centre of his role, having attended a series of meetings in recent weeks to find out more about people’s real-life experiences of care and support services.

Two sessions organised by See Me featured input from youth champions and volunteers, alongside representatives with lives experience from partner organisations BEAT, Bipolar Scotland, CAMHS, Feniks, Support in Mind and Glasgow Association for Mental Health.

Shared experience

The two groups of volunteers met virtually with the Minister to share their views of what’s going well, and what could be better for people with experience of mental health problems.

The participants covered a range of topics, including current complaints processes in health and social care, empathy and kindness, stigma and discrimination, staff training, the role and rights of carers, availability of services and transition between CAMHS and adult services.

Mr Stewart said: “I thank See Me for organising these meetings. Being able to hear directly from those with a range of lived experiences of mental health services and support is invaluable. I am committed to ensuring that the voices of those people are at the heart of our policy making. I look forward to our continued working together.”
The volunteers hope that their input will have a positive impact on services in Scotland, and move towards eradicating some of the stigma and discrimination that service users still experience.

Positive opportunity

Toni Groundwater, Programme Manager for Communities and Priority Groups at See Me, said: “The meetings with the Minister offered our volunteers a really positive opportunity to engage with a decision-maker, and influence real change with potential to benefit thousands of lives across Scotland.

“Despite lots of great work going on across the sector, stigma and discrimination continue to be core issues across health and social care, but we know that listening to those with lived experience, and acting on what they have to say, has real potential to make change.”

“We’re really pleased that Mr Stewart is taking the views and experiences of our volunteers on board, and look forward to seeing the impact that this has.”