Service user led organisations in mental health today

Diana Rose, Dee Macdonald, Aaron Wilson, Mike J. Crawford, Marian Barnes, Edward Omeni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Since 1990, health policy in England has stressed the importance of user involvement in shaping and delivering services. Aims: To explore mental health service user-led organisations (ULOs) in England, as they interact with decision-makers to bring about change desired by them with a focus on institutional norms behaviour and specialised knowledge impacting service users’ relationships with services. Method: An ethnography of five ULOs in two provider organisations (NHS Trusts) including observing their meetings and interactions with decision-makers, conducting in-depth interviews and collecting reflective diaries kept by two members of each group. Results: During the study, one group ceased to operate. This was a group which refused to adopt the institutional rules and norms of managerial discourse. The other four groups survived by navigating the changing environment which existed at the time of the study, although often at some cost. Themes of autonomy and leadership were also identified. Conclusion: The current environment is one of the organisational complexity and change and the place of ULOs is an ambiguous one as they strive to maintain autonomy whilst at the same time being an acceptable voice to managers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-259
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2016

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Mental Health on 12/02/2016 available online:


  • Service user led organisations
  • user led organisations
  • service user involvement
  • patient and public involvement.


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