Mental health service user and carer involvement became stronger in Lanarkshire following the publication of the document ‘A Framework for Mental Health Services’, by the then Scottish Office in 1997.
Lanarkshire NHS Board, North and South Lanarkshire Councils together with Lanarkshire Association for Mental Health, submitted a joint bid for development funding to create a mental health strategy and to involve service users and carers in its preparation.
As part of this process the User & Carer Involvement Team was established with three development workers in post by Oct of 1998. The team established a database of over 200 people who had expressed an interest in involvement although the numbers who became actively involved was relatively small (around 35).
An interim group was supported and ‘The New Lanark Group’ was established to continue this work.
In 2001 the service users and carers associated with the project were encouraged to develop an independent organisation to continue the work. A consultancy agency was engaged to work with them and at a meeting attended by more than 60 people in the summer of 2002 Lanarkshire Links was formed. A management committee was elected, with charitable status being granted in September 2002 and the organisation began operation from October of that same year. New funding was secured from North and South Lanarkshire Councils in addition to existing funding from Lanarkshire NHS Board.
The purpose of Lanarkshire Links is to support mental health service users and carers to be involved in the process of planning services and service provision. This will include ensuring that service providers are informed about problems with existing services and current examples of good practice which can be rolled out to other areas. That the process of involvement is inclusive and not detrimental to peoples’ health and welfare and that we can truly influence the services available in Lanarkshire.