Consultation with all of the people involved in our programmes is a central theme of all of our work.
Consultation allows us to include all of the relevant stake holders in the process of programme development. It means that we can be sure that our programmes are addressing the problems that mentally ill people face and the solutions that we are working towards are the right ones. Consultation builds programmes that are sensitive to local situations and are owned by the participants.
Consultation also helps us to monitor how our programmes progress and address any problems that arise.
Without this process, we would just be making programmes for mentally ill people and mental health services, rather than with them.
We consult many different groups.
The main group of people that we consult are mentally ill people and their carers. Asking a mentally ill person what they think about an issue can be a revolutionary experience; it is often the first time that they have ever been asked their opinion. Their carers, who are usually in the same meeting, are often the most shocked when the mentally ill person delivers a sound and coherent response.
This process helps us to find out what the particular problems of this group of mentally ill people and carers are and develop our programme of activities with them.
We also consult the community at large. This helps us to find out what problems the wider community faces and also their attitudes towards mental illnesses. Through consulting the community, we can help to build trust and understanding, along with providing an opportunity to begin to educate them about mental illnesses.
Another group that we consult are our partner organisations, including the health department of the government. By consulting these groups, we make sure that our programmes are achievable and realistic. Consultation with these groups is very important as it ensures that a sustainable programme is developed. By creating ownership of the programme amongst these service providers, we build their ability and desire to continue the programme beyond the life of our involvement.
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