Co-Production in Action: Wellbeing Our Way

Lisa Rossetti speaks…

I have been working with mental health service users through participatory arts and storytelling for some years.  I work primarily in Recovery Colleges, as well as in adult day centres for those who are using mental health services. I also have personal lived experience myself of depression due to hyperthyroidism. My biblio-poetry and creative writing work in Recovery College (West and East Cheshire) and the team-building I undertook with my local NHS Recovery Team introduced me to the principles of co-production which made perfect sense. We were involving service users in decisions and planning, but embedding these principles properly into my own work such as co-facilitation of my workshops was somewhat aspirational. So when Natalie Koussa (National Voices) invited me to join the team as someone with personal experience, and then to co-design the National Voices’ launch event of Wellbeing Our Way, I was delighted to be putting co-production values to work.

In one sense I felt I was taking quite a daunting leap of responsibility from applauding the principles of co-production to actually being involved in designing and facilitating a session which would model how co-production would look for members and participants in Wellbeing Our Way. However, I felt supported throughout by Natalie and indeed by the participants at the launch event, which in itself is a testimony to the enthusiasm and appetite for co-production.  I knew from feedback and research into my work with Cheshire Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust that a storytelling element could facilitate teamwork, and engage the participants, and was delighted that Natalie was open-minded enough to try out this approach.

On the day, the interactive discussion round which I call the “Story Café” created an engaging and reflective atmosphere. I told the tale of “Stone Soup”, a traditional European folktale with a theme of community, co-operation and shared talents set against a background of deprivation, conflict and suspicion. Then we explored the themes and issues that were evoked by the story in conversational rounds.

In the role of story-listeners, participants were enabled to step outside their usual roles and collaborate at a much more connected level, sharing their ideas and insights through the safe neutral ground of the imagined story world. The creativity of the Story Café thus paved the way to the more logical mapping of the co-production model in the afternoon.

I have always felt that co-production was the way forward for engagement; we are, after all, experts of our own lived experience.  I’ve experienced many approaches to involving others, from Open Forum to World Café.  I’ve also experienced so-called engagement events that quickly peter out with no further involvement or even communication, and sadly the return to “business as usual” as traditional hierarchies and control mechanisms reassert themselves. So it was delightful to see the seed of co-production flourishing in that upstairs room in the Indian YMCA on one of the hottest autumn days in London for many years.

My experience of what National Voices is attempting to achieve continues to be positive.  I like the transparency, the respectful communication and commitment to involving users of mental health services. I have high hopes of my continuing involvement with Wellbeing Our Way, and look forward to making a really useful contribution to how we approach and regard mental health services in this country.  And I am looking forward to more collaborative work and more co-production in 2015, as we move the work of Wellbeing Our Way forward together.

For myself, I now want to explore further how I can incorporate co-production into my own workshops, especially at Recovery Colleges.

If you’re a person with lived experience or a National Voices member who would like to get involved in Wellbeing Our Way, please contact Natalie Koussa You can read more about Lisa Rossetti’s work on:


RCT Interlink Connecting Communities – co-pro in action

RCT CBC Adult Services commissioned Interlink to organise three Connecting Communities Events. The purpose of these co-design events were to promote better working relationships and joint working opportunities between statutory services and voluntary sector groups in the area. They led to a plethora of ideas and actions – assisted by superb facilitation and lively graphic visualisation.
The full report is here.

Some key health related problems and co-produced actions were:

Support for people experiencing isolation and loneliness

  • Commission an analysis of initiatives and resources that impact on isolation in conjunction with a pilot community ethnography project to take an asset based approach to reducing isolation. Incorporate findings into Cwm Taf’s Older Peoples Commissioning Strategy.
  • Explore how infrastructure for supportive and connected communities that reduce isolation can be developed and supported, bringing together ideas from the Rhydyfelin pilot and the Street Ambassador project.

Mental Health Support – patchy provision of support services was highlighted, particularly a lack of support for families, lack of drop-in provision and lack of evening and weekend support.

    • Interlink staff (e.g. Mental Health Partnership Development Officer and Children and Young Peoples Partnership Development Officer) to look at existing support for families through Team Around the Family (TAF) and make recommendations to TAF Board.
    • RCT CBC and Interlink to work with Llanharan ‘drop in’ and or Pontyclun day centre, involving service users in the process.
    • Further promotion of Mental Health Support website and DVD.
    • Respond to recommendations outlined in Mental Health Early Intervention Feasibility Study (WIHSC, 2013) on alternatives to prescription drugs through the MHF working with Service User Representatives.

ATTIC: A Matter of Perspective

[VIDEO] ATTIC: A Matter of Perspective [20’18]
ATTIC was a contemporary art project and gallery space in Cardiff dedicated to exploring personal, cultural and scientific understandings of the mind with a particular focus on the spectrum of mental health and mental illness. ATTIC had no agenda other than to provide an impartial platform and opportunity for encounters, dialogue and creative expression from a variety of perspectives.

No Assumptions: a narrative for personalised, coordinated care and support in mental healt

This is a resource to help NHS, council commissioners and providers of services organise person-centred care based on what people with live experience of mental illness say is important to them. The resource was co-produced by TLAP and National Voices with people with mental health needs from TLAP’s National Co-production Advisory Group, the National Survivor User Network, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and Certitude.

Social Mirror for social prescriptions

“People at risk of isolation and vulnerability will soon be able to receive ‘social prescriptions’ that help them use local resources to improve their mental wellbeing. The Social Mirror for social prescribing initiative, which has been approved for funding by the Nominet Trust, will see the RSA and Nathan Matias of the MIT Center for Civic Media develop a ‘social app’ that aims to help people participate in their communities. By responding to a series of questions, users will receive a guided analysis of their online and offline social connections, as well as advice about how they could use their connections to improve their mental wellbeing.

By testing the app’s effectiveness in different contexts – such as among GPs or other health practitioners – the RSA will evaluate the impact of social prescriptions on people’s mental wellbeing, their sense of attachment to and participation in the local community, and their use of public services.”

nef report on co-production in mental health

nef (new economics foundation) has published a new report, ‘Co-production in mental health: A literature review’. The work was commissioned by Mind, the mental health charity. nef and Mind would like this report to trigger a wider conversation about the current levels of co-production in mental health services in the UK.